There were no modern medical and healthcare institutions in the old days. The PLA initiated public health undertakings once it had peacefully liberated Tibet in 1951. For more than half a century, the State has allocated a total of 1.8 billion Yuan to develop medical and health undertakings in the region and the annual subsidy for the medical treatment of farmers and herders now surpasses 20 million Yuan. At the end of 2007, the TAR had 1,343 medical institutions, including 763 hospitals and clinics, 80 disease prevention organs and 55 centers for the healthcare of women and children. They had 7,469 beds for the sick, including 7,091 hospital beds. The number of medical and technical workers reached 9,095, including 4,270 licensed doctors. The number of beds for the sick and the number of healthcare workers reached 2.64 beds and 3.20 persons respectively per 1,000 people.
Tibetan farmers and herders benefit a lot from the free medicare system.
In 2007, the TAR government invested 170 million Yuan in the rural medical institutions and disease control system, making it possible for the people to receive regular physical examination on the yearly basis. Also in 2007, houses were built for clinics of 65 townships, and birth service facilities for five prefectures. Efforts were also made to renovate health service centers of 25 counties, and Tibetan medicine hospitals of Xigaze, Nyingchi, Shannan and Qamdo. About 52 percent of the Tibetans now consume iodized salt.
It also strengthened the construction of the disease prevention and medical treatment system. Currently, 131 projects in this regard are completed, including 57 for disease prevention and 74 for medical treatment. The total investment reached 153.712 million Yuan. Hence, the medical treatment and health care condition in Tibet are greatly improved so as to guarantee the health of Tibetan people. As a result, the death rate of women in childbirth dropped from 50 per thousand before the Democratic Reform in 1959 to around 2.47 per thousand, while the infant mortality rate plunged from 430 to 24.38 per thousand.
Medicare System in Agricultural and Pastoral Areas
At present, a new System of Cooperative Medical Service in Rural and Pastoral Areas is being implemented, organized, led and supported by the government. Farmers and herders participate in the system on a voluntary basis. Governments at various levels, collectives and individuals raise the necessary funds. It is a basic system for guaranteeing medical treatment, centering on the household account and risk pooling for serious diseases. After farmers and herders hand in individual financing of more than 10 Yuan, outpatient service fees can be written off from the fund on the household account in the Household Medical Treatment Account Book, and over 60 percent of the hospitalization fees expended in the medical treatment institutions at different levels can be erased. With the constant development of the Tibetan economy and medical treatment technology and the increase of the price of medicines, the medical treatment and health care cost have soared in sparsely-inhabited Tibet. From 1992, Tibet raised the standard of free medical service many times. The annual per-capita free medical service fund was increased from the original five Yuan to 90 Yuan in 2006.
Starting in 2007, a system in agricultural and pasturing areas, based on free medical treatment, benefited all. The annual per-capita free medical service fund was raised to 100 Yuan in 2007. It was the sixth time to raise the standard, through which 2.37 million farmers and herders enjoyed free service. With regard to people incapable of labor, without means of livelihood, or without family support, or the elderly, handicapped, the very young and the sick that suffer from serious diseases and therefore have to pay high fees for medical treatment, they will also get more help. The benefit is expected to be raised to 130 Yuan in 2010. The system not only ensures that farmers and herders enjoy basic medical services, but also greatly reduces their economic burden.
Noted Tibetan medical expert Qamba Chilei giving lectures to students of the Tibetan Medicine Hospital.
In recent years, under the vigorous support of the State and the TAR government, the Tibetan medicine industry has flourished, featuring a pattern supported by the TAR Pharmaceutical Factory, the preparation rooms or the Tibetan medicine plants of the hospitals of each prefectures and cities. It was listed as one of the three characteristic pillar industries of the region. By the end of 2007, there were 14 Tibetan medicine institutes and more than 60 Tibetan medicine departments of the hospitals of counties, with over 2,000 personnel engaged in this regard. The number of Tibetan medicine manufacturing enterprises has increased from one before the reform and opening up in 1978 to 19, all passing the GMP authentication of the State. They can produce 360-plus Tibetan patent medicines, 283 of which are approved by State medical authorities. Of the total, 20 varieties are subject to the State protection. The Tibetan herbal medicine "Ganlu" and "Cheezhen" has gained the title of "famous trademark of China". Ruyizhenbao Series Tibetan Medicine high tech modernization and industrialization demonstration project in Tibet Tibetan Factory was listed as the key project, with smooth headway being made.