From Chicago Tribune, via San Jose Mercury News (free registration required):
Mr. Li, a 64-year-old retiree with an upset stomach, reached Beijing’s most famous hospital one morning recently, ready to see a doctor. He brought a blanket, newspapers and a bag of fruit.
With any luck, he would stand in line for just 26 hours.
Lining up all day and all night for a doctor’s appointment, or buying one from a scalper for 30 times the official fee, are hardly unusual in China, where more than one-fifth of the world’s population relies on a health-care system that is failing.
Global health experts, doctors and, most recently, government officials are unanimous: China’s medical system faces a growing crisis. Government investment in health care has declined radically for two decades, sending hospitals and doctors on a chaotic foray into the free market and leaving hundreds of millions of Chinese without affordable or competent service.