Foreign and Defense Policy, Asia

China’s Public Health Struggles Continue

As I point out in my latest article on fake drugs (China’s Bad Medicine, WSJA), Chinese authorities are attempting to improve the quality of the drug supply and distribution chains across China. But China’s actions are sometimes arbitrary and capricious. China can certainly act tough—the execution of a Chinese Food and Drug Authority official for accepting bribes, for example—but it has yet to tackle the more widespread abuses within this department, and still makes it too difficult for harmed individuals to seek compensation through the courts.

As an interesting article on containing swine flu from today’s WSJ Asia shows, China also has still much to improve when it comes to the broader handling of the most basic of public health actions. Quarantining Mexicans, regardless of whether they had been exposed to swine flu, and not containing non-Mexicans who had been exposed, shows a worrying lack of understanding of the spread of the disease. And while swine flu is not likely to be a major problem, a future bird flu might be disastrous. If China acts in the same way in the future, a pandemic is more likely.

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