The Asian Century, Sustainable Growth and Climate Change
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The Asian Century, Sustainable Growth and Climate Change

Responsible Futures Matter

Edited by Moazzem Hossain, Tapan Sarker and Malcolm McIntosh

This path-breaking book investigates the challenges of realizing the Asian century. Prosperity in Asia does not only mean economic growth; the issues of public health, sanitation, income equality, the social safety net and efficient use of natural resources are also important. It argues for new policy initiatives in social, environmental and natural resource areas of South, Southeast and East Asia.
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Chapter 6: China’s changing public health paradox and the new generation of health NGOs

Lai-Ha Chan and Ronald C. Keith


Non-government organizations (NGOs) that become involved in dissent in China run the serious risk of political suppression; however, many NGOs, as new ‘social organizations’ (shehui tuanti) have, in cooperating with the government, contributed to the successful achievement of practical policy goals within China’s nascent civil society. Some have even been able to pursue ‘comprehensive community intervention’ that ‘cuts across political, social and administrative boundaries’ to further developing human rights. This analysis specifically considers the role of China’s health NGOs that have become active since the beginning of this century. The new generation of health NGOs have provided additional resources and expertise to compensate for the inequalities in health service provision that have accompanied accelerated economic reform through the transition to the ‘socialist market’. In terms of healthcare modernization China’s market dynamic has spurred technological progress but the retreat of the state from public healthcare has become politically unacceptable especially in light of marked unevenness in the access to healthcare and new policy focus on social development that militates against GDP ism as the exclusive focus on economic growth. Chinese public healthcare policy has been and still is paradoxical in its strategy and outcomes. Under Mao’s revolutionary leadership there was a strong emphasis on equal access to services and preventive medicine. In the transition to the socialist market, beginning in 1978 and especially since 1992, policy has focused on a market-oriented healthcare system, with the state playing a diminishing role in financing growing medical costs.

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