Healthcare in Tibet

Located in the foothills of the tallest mountains on earth, Tibet offers literally breathtaking views from the top of the world. Most people in Tibet live at altitudes greater than 3,500 meters; this imposes a significant burden on the cardiopulmonary system, which in turn challenges the performance of the healthcare system. Unfortunately, medical infrastructure is relatively poor in Tibet and services are sometimes not easily to get in rural areas out of Lhasa. In a word, the healthcare system currently fails to meet many of the needs of the Tibetan people. It is difficult to predict exactly what changes will have to be made in basic medical care and national health policy in order to raise Tibet to some minimum health standards. 

By the end of 2015, there were 1463 health institutions in the Tibet Autonomous region, including 139 hospitals, 680 health centers, 82 Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) centers, and 55 centers for maternal and child health care. There are 14013 ward beds, including 9954 of hospital beds; 14335 health workers, including 6204 of practice/practice (assistant) physician. Compared with before, health care in Tibet has been greatly improved. The Chinese government is also paying more and more attention to the improvement of healthcare in Tibet Autonomous region. 

Healthcare Problems in Tibet

Numerous indicators suggest that China is far from realizing its fundamental obligations with regard to provision of health care in Tibet. Health care is not only unaffordable and inaccessible for a vast majority of Tibetans, but the spread of disease and the significant number of deaths due to the inadequacy of the health care system suggests that the investments made in Tibet’s health sector have not properly addressed the
multitude of health care issues facing Tibetans.

There are four distinct levels of health care facilities available in Tibet: the prefectural or municipal level, the county level, the township level, and the village level. Tibet is comprised of seven prefectures, each with varying numbers of counties, townships and villages. Healthcare resources vary tremendously between these levels as well as between prefectures. At the prefectural level, there are a handful of hospitals with mostly adequate facilities to treat diseases. The county-level hospitals are more sparsely equipped, but better than township level and village level. At township level and village level, the equipment to treat diseases is backward.

Pulmonary Diseases In Tibet

While pulmonary diseases are not the greatest cause of morbidity and mortality in Tibet, they are the most widespread. The most common pulmonary diseases found in Tibet are TB, pneumonia, asthma, and lung cancer. Deficiencies in the basic structure and delivery of health care prevent these pulmonary diseases from being adequately treated. In all of China, the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) included, Tibet has the highest incidence of TB. Lung cancer is not so prevalent, however, and other parts of China have a much higher incidence. It is difficult to estimate the incidence of either pneumonia or asthma because the former is over- and the latter is under-diagnosed.

Considerations When Traveling in Tibet

Entering Tibet you feel as though you’ve entered an entirely different world. The traditional Tibetan culture remains strong and central to the region despite economic development and migration of other Chinese ethnic groups to Lhasa. Therefore, there are some considerations you should know.

1. Altitude Sickness

Tibet poses some unique and particular risks to your health, mostly associated with altitude. Most people are worried about altitude sickness and search for lots of information to reduce the risks. It’s hard to avoid altitude sickness because you ascend to such a high altitude, especially when you are used to living at a low altitude. However, you don’t have to be scared of mountain sickness. Most people will be ok with adequate preparation and knowledge. Move slowly even if you feel energetic and take mountain sickness medicine a before departure are recommended.

2. Tibet Entry Permit

All non-Chinese passport holders need a Tibet Entry Permit to visit Tibet, and the only way to enter Tibet is to travel in groups. The Tibet Entry Permit is very important. It will be checked at the train station/airport, when you enter attractions in Tibet, and even when you check in to a hotel. 

3. Best Time to Visit

In general, the best time to visit Tibet is from May to October when the weather is comfortable and oxygen content higher. This is Tibet’s high travel season. What’s more, Tibet is usually closed for most of February and March for the politically sensitive time of Tibetan New Year.

4. Preparation

What you should prepare includes warm clothes, such as sweaters and fleeces are needed even in summer as the day-night temperature drop is big. A thick down coat is essential if you go to Everest. Bring sunglasses and sunscreen to protect you from strong sunlight. other things include lip cream, snacks, comfortable walking shoes and various medicines like altitude medicine, motion sickness medicine and Anti-diarrhea medicine.

5. Health

If you don’t feel well before you depart for Tibet you are not suggested to go to Tibet. Even a cold can make altitude sickness feel a lot worse.

Hospitals in Tibet

Hospitals Address Tel.
People’s Hospital of Tibet Autonomous Region No.18, Linkuo North Road, Chengguan District, Lhasa City拉萨市城关区林廓北路18号 0891-6371462
People’s Hospital of Dagze District达孜区人民医院  The Crossroad of Jingmin Road and Zhenjiang Road, Dagze District, Lhasa City拉萨市达孜区警民路与镇江路交叉口 0891-6142306
The Second People’s Hospital of Tibet Autonomous Region No.119, Jinzhu West Road, Chengguan District, Lhasa拉萨市城关区金珠西路119号 0891-6865120
People’s Hospital of Lhasa City No.1, Beijing East Road, Chengguan District, Lhasa City拉萨市城关区北京东路1号 0891-6323302

Tibetan Hospital of Shigatse City日喀则市藏医医院

No.30, Shanghai Middle Road, Samzhubze District, Shigatse日喀则市桑珠孜区上海中路30号 0892-8826627
People’s Hospital of Gyangze County江孜县人民医院 No.5, Shanghai Road, Gyanze County, Shigatse日喀则市江孜县上海路5号 0892-8173719
The Eighth Hospital of People’s Liberation Army Everest West Road, Samzhubze District, Shigatse日喀则市桑珠孜区珠峰西路 0892-8833005
People’s Hospital of Nagqu City那曲市人民医院 No.15, Zhejiang Middle Road, Seni District, Nagqu那曲市色尼区浙江中路15号 0896-3822344
People’s Hospital of Shannan City山南市人民医院 No.5, Gesang Road, Nedong District, Shannan City山南市乃东区格桑路5号 0893-7820289
People’s Hospital of Chamdo昌都市人民医院 No.76, Nanlu Gate, Karub District, Chamdo昌都市卡若区南路大门76号 0895-4821745
People’s Hospital of Coqen County措勤县人民医院 South Guangxi Road, Coqen County, Ngari Prefecture阿里地区措勤县广西路南 0897-2612171
People’s Hospital of Nyingchi City林芝市人民医院 Aomen Road, Bayi District, Nyingchi City林芝市巴宜区澳门路 0894-5822842
General Hospital of Tibet Military Region Niangre North Road, Chengguan District, Lhasa拉萨市城关区娘热北路 0891-6858120