Heading to the Olympics? Read This First

If you are planning to attend the Summer Olympics in Beijing or are otherwise one of the 150 million tourists China is expecting this year, there are facts about the country's health care system you'll want to know in case of emergency. For example, foreign health insurance plans are not accepted, and private clinics are recommended over public hospitals, which are largely overcrowded. Patients will likely wait for hours, and most often payment is expected in cash and prior to admission. The country's ambulances are not reliable, and private transportation, even in an emergency, is often the fastest alternative. These are among the concerns examined in "What You Should Know Before Traveling Abroad: Health and Security Risks in China," a new white paper published by Baltimore-based MEDEX Global Group.

The report, available for free download at www.medexassist.com/travelguides, captures the results from a series of 300-point, onsite evaluations of medical care and health facilities throughout China. To compile the evaluation, MEDEX experts examined a variety of factors including the country's disease risks and quality of health care, blood supply, and more. China's blood supply is not safe, the report concludes. The AIDS virus is a significant concern in the country, and there is a risk of exposure to unsafe blood and blood products.

Overall, on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being the lowest rating, MEDEX gave China a score of "4." Training for doctors and nurses may not be up to international standards, and in rural areas of China, medical care is more rudimentary than in urban areas. Hospitals may not have modern equipment or even plumbing. In fact, only 28 percent of the population in rural China has access to adequate sanitation facilities. The Games of the XXIX Olympiad will be celebrated from Aug. 8 - 24, with the opening ceremony commencing at 08:08:08 pm CST (12:08:08 UTC) at the Beijing National Stadium in Beijing, People's Republic of China.

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