Medical Transitions in Twentieth-Century China

Medical Transitions in Twentieth-Century China

Medical Transitions in Twentieth-Century China

Medical Transitions in Twentieth-Century China


This volume examines important aspects of China's century-long search to provide appropriate and effective health care for its people. Four subjects--disease and healing, encounters and accommodations, institutions and professions, and people's health--organize discussions across case studies of schistosomiasis, tuberculosis, mental health, and tobacco and health. Among the book's significant conclusions are the importance of barefoot doctors in disseminating western medicine, the improvements in medical health and services during the long Sino-Japanese war, and the important role of the Chinese consumer. Intended for an audience of health practitioners, historians, and others interested in the history of medicine and health in China, the book is one of three commissioned by the China Medical Board to mark its centennial in 2014.


This volume is one of several projects which celebrate the centenary of the China Medical Board (CMB). Our aim is to provide a broad overview of the history of medicine in China rather than a narrow institutional history of the cmb, but readers may find it helpful to have a summary of the mission and history of the cmb here.

The CMB’s work began in 1914 when it was created by the Rockefeller Foundation to manage philanthropic funding for the Peking Union Medical College (PUMC), “the cradle of modern medicine in China.” in the first half of the twentieth century, most of the CMB’s resources went toward the construction and development of pumc, which was the largest investment project in Rockefeller Foundation history. in 1928, the cmb was endowed as an independent American foundation for the continuing support of pumc. Through war and chaos, pumc not only endured but flourished. Its faculty and graduates founded many key clinical specialties in China and developed innovations such as a three-tiered rural health system. the cmb continued to work in China after the establishment of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, but two years later, in 1951, the Chinese government nationalized pumc, ending the decades-long relationship.

Starting in the 1950s, the cmb expanded its capacity-building work into other Asian countries: Japan, Korea, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, and Taiwan. Today, the cmb remains active in mainland Southeast Asia, supporting universities to strengthen education and research in medicine, nursing, and public health.

In 1980, the cmb accepted an invitation to return to China and has since expanded its support of medical education and research to more than a dozen medical universities. From 1980 to 2008, the cmb invested strategically in medical research and education. in medical education, it developed the Global Minimum Essential Requirements (GMER), seeded innovations, and established four centers at Central South University, China Medical University, Sichuan University, and pumc.

In 2008, the cmb launched a fresh initiative to strengthen scientific excellence in “critical capacities” among Chinese and Asian institutions in order to promote equitable access to primary and preventive health services. This initiative refocused the CMB’s efforts on advancing the field of health policy and systems sciences (HPSS), building capacity in health professional education, and directing resources to rural health.

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.