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Medical Care

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Rest-assurred, basic health care is perfectly adequate in Shanghai, taking on the form of American-style medical centres. The good news is that the quality of services and availability are improving all the time as the number of expats increases.

Each expatriate community has its own services available locally. Obviously, the bigger the community - the more medical facilities.

The best way to find the right health care provider for you is by listening to recommendations from friends and colleagues. Then establish a relationship before an emergency situation occurs. Inform your employer and friends of your preferred choice and set up an emergency plan for you and your family which you should also mail home to a trusted friend or family member.

Expatriates are generally treated at one of the city’s Western-staffed and managed clinics by generalists or at designated foreigners' clinics in local hospitals, but facilities and treatment are limited at both. Foreigners' clinics are supposed to have English-speaking personnel, but usually the level of English is poor, and you should bring along a Chinese speaker to make sure you understand what needs to be done.

The care itself is usually competent, and very inexpensive compared to Western clinics and the West. Other hospitals will treat foreigners, but only in emergencies.

There are a number of private hospitals and clinics in Shanghai set up as joint-ventures. Quality, education and experience vary greatly as do equipment, services and medications available.

For more serious / complicated issues, patients usually return to their home countries or seek treatment in Hong Kong, Bangkok or Shanghai. Generally speaking, complicated health issues are best handled abroad.


Shanghai does not require any immunizations, but Hepatits A & B, Japanese encephalitis and rabies are recommended.  Ideally, these should be done before you arrive in the country, but if not, the clinics below can usually do them for you. Check before you arrive, as some immunizations may not be available.


Similarly, all the medication you might need over the counter and prescription should be brought with you, as not all medication can be found in Shanghai. The law requires import certificateswith any medication that you send into the country (via a shipment, for example), although local health professionals say that it is rare for a customs officer to ask to see one. Medication that you carry with you does not fall into this category, but should have a prescription.

Ideally, you should try to inform yourself on the areas of medical care relevant to you via websites like the Mayo Clinic, and work out a plan for care with your current physician and your Shanghai doctor, as the depth of speciality health care simply does not exist here yet.

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