Medication, Prescriptions and Healthcare in China

A Teacher’s Guide to Healthcare in China

A basic guide to the healthcare system in China, Medication, Prescriptions and useful information. If you are travelling to teach English in China, it would be a good idea to acquaint yourself with the health care system in China. You should to fill a health declaration card before you enter China. The cards are distributed by the cabin crew during your flight to China. Vaccinations are not required for travel in China. Chinese government does not offer free and universal healthcare. Primary medical attention and public hospitals are run by the government with a bit of funding. Most public hospitals finance themselves and depend heavily on the sale of drugs to do this.

Health Care System

China does have free public healthcare that both the native population and the expat community can access in most of China. Some areas do not require foreigners to pay taxes to support the local healthcare system and therefore residents in those areas will not be able to access the public healthcare system free of charge. As a foreign teacher, your school will make sure that you are enrolled on the social insurance plan or another health insurance plan.


It may take time for you to familiarise with the area you are posted to teach English in China. Thus, it is advisable to carry enough stock of your medication. Carry a letter from your doctor indicating your dosage and medication. Most drug companies use English for their generic names. The directions and precautions are in Chinese. Most importantly, have the generic names of your drugs written in English because. Also, ensure you pack enough over the counter drugs such as aspirin, laxatives and painkillers.

Note: Most over the counter drugs are what you are used to at home.

Pharmacies and Drugstores

The growth of pharmacies and drugstores has increased over the last few years. This is due to the high prices of drugs in Chinese hospitals. You will find many pharmacies scattered all over the city you teach in China. All pharmacies have a green cross for identification. They pharmacies stock over the counter drugs, generic drugs, natural and herbal supplements. The staff in Chinese pharmacies communicate in Mandarin. Carry a medicine packaging, a photo of it or have a translator with you when purchasing your medicine.


Visit the pharmacy and buy your medication if you have a prescription. This is a paper where your medication is written down by a doctor. If you have a prescription from your home country, take it to a Chinese doctor. He or she will give you a Chinese prescription if the drugs are not available in China. Ensure that your prescription has a generic name of your drugs on it. China keeps tightening her regulations on prescribed drugs to avoid abuse of prescription drugs. However, in some cases, pharmacies sell prescription drugs without a prescription.


Medical attention for an emergency is available throughout China and in addition, emergency services in China are provided by state emergency medical services. The state offers well-equipped emergency ambulances with doctors and nurses at dispatch. Major hospitals have wards reserved for foreigners in case of emergency. Chinese doctors are well trained, having studied and trained in foreign medical schools. They are judicious and sophisticated in their diagnosis and handle emergency cases well.

If you require further information in regards to travelling with medicines: Carrying medication abroad and counterfeit medication, click here!

This guide provides general information. If you suffer from a chronic illness or life-threatening condition, please seek help and assistance from your doctor or a medical professional pre-departure.

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