China Health Policy Report

China is Key Player in Shaping Global Health Landscape

August 29, 2014
urban China

China is reshaping the global health landscape, according to a new paper in the Lancet by DGHI faculty member Shenglan Tang and colleagues. China is the focus of the Lancet's latest issue. 

Tang and colleagues highlight China’s distinctive approach to, and increasing participation in, global health. They suggest that the scope and depth of China’s global engagement are likely to grow and reshape the contours of global health.

Taking foreign aid as an example, they show that the type of health aid China offers is different from other developed countries, driven by its unique history and competencies, and complex motivational factors—political, economic, social, and humanitarian. Rather than offering general financial support, China focuses on some important aspects of the health system such as deploying medical teams, constructing hospitals and clinics, donating drugs and medical equipment, training personnel, and supporting malaria control efforts using artemisinin based on traditional Chinese medicine.

Over the past 50 years, China has dispatched around 23,000 medical personnel to about 66 countries providing services for an estimated 270 million people and constructed more than a hundred health facilities mainly in Africa and Asia. Recently, China has also been an active member in the UN and other related bodies such as WHO, and has become a contributor to multilateral funding pools such as the Global Fund.

Tang is professor of medicine and global health at the Duke Global Health Institute and directs the Duke Kunshan University Global Health Research Center. Other authors on the paper are partners from Peking University Health Sciences Center, Fudan University and the China Medical Board.