Health and well-being in China is made up of a myriad of diverse and complex factors. Three key issues that I have picked out of my research are:
- Problems in financing of services for the well-being of ageing people
- An increasing mortality rate over time, and
- The widening gap between socio-economic mobility of rural aged people.
Provision of services for aged care in China is undergoing a major shift. The government financed system that has been the bedrock for many peoples health services for a decades is moving towards a government subsidised system. Similar to the Australian medi-care system or the ObamaCare package in the United States, a Chinese government subsidised health care system would be carried out in a ‘street block’ fashion whereby localised clinics serve people ‘[l]iving within a few blocks of streets in urban area, at factory clinics serving the workers employed and at clinics staffed by the less intensively trained medical personnel –‘Bare-Foot Doctors’- in rural areas’ (Woo, 2002).
China’s rapid and astronomical economic development has created winners and losers in its society. Like many countries, China’s experience of economic development has established a wealth gap – a divide growing a time passes. But in addition to the widening wealth the health and well-being outcomes of ageing people are severe as the ‘mortality rate from non-communicable diseases likely becoming a long-term economic burden (Woo, 2002).
Moreover, the economic development in China has led to another widening gap – that of upward social mobility. Socio-economic and lifestyle differences between older, unskilled people in rural areas and young professional people in urban areas have lead to severe health outcomes. The following figures paint a profound picture:
The suicide rate per 100 000 populations in 1994 among those aged 65-74 in rural areas was 101.5 for men, and 74.7 for women compared to 16.9 and 15.6 in urban areas. To put this in perspective, UK figures show us that China’s development have left older rural people behind as 10.7 and 4.3 per 100 000 committed suicide there.
From this research I feel that there are two main opportunities areas presented for design led outcomes. There are obvious disparities between rural and urban areas, not more blatant than health care expenditure as ‘80% of resources are concentrated in big cities that have only 15% of the country’s population’ (Woo, 2002). Just as medicine and health care revolutionised itself in the 20th century in Australia to provide the public health sector, design should enable itself for the masses in China. Thomas Fisher (2016) explains this idea as ‘custom solutions to the particular needs of fee paying clients’. Whilst this is workable for clients who can afford it the vast majority of people do not benefit. A new perspective is needed in so far as the well emerging entrepreneurial spirit now instilled in urban Chinese economic culture should be harnessed to help those in need. An incentive based system should be implemented within this context and assistance to the elderly should be rewarded.
Another key opportunity area of interest could revolve around the assistance of older rural people who at risk of suicide. I believe the example of Beyond Blue in Australia has much to offer in China.
Beyond Blue elaborate on their offerings, their service and their ethos: ‘because this affects all of us, we’re equipping everyone in Australia with the knowledge and skills to protect their own mental health. We’re giving people the confidence to support those around them, and anxiety, depression and suicide part of everyday conversations. And as well as tackling stigma, prejudice and discrimination, we’re breaking down the barriers that prevent people from speaking up and reaching out’ (beyondblue).
Jack fahy 99131981