Public health in China has become a global concern as a consequence of the outbreak and spread of COVID-19, yet Chinese physicians and administrators have helped shape concepts and practices of ‘global health’ since before that term rose to prominence in the 1990s. This lecture examines the historical place of China in international health, focusing on mass vaccination programs. In the twentieth century, Chinese governments promoted large-scale immunization as a means of asserting competence and capacities in public health administration. During the Cold War, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) promoted the control of infectious diseases, a success to which vaccination programs had contributed, alongside much more well-known barefoot doctors and rural medical programmes. This rural health care system became a model broadly championed in global health, yet it also helped lay the foundations for forms of bilateral medical diplomacy that remain relevant to contemporary vaccine distribution networks.
Friday, 29 October, 6:30 PM IST | Tutorial: 8:00 PM IST