At the peak of the Cultural Revolution, the barefoot doctor initiative and the production brigade medical stations where these practitioners worked were established to improve health-care service across rural China. The story of barefoot doctors formally began in 1968, when the People's Daily published a report in September announcing “a revolution in medical education through the growth of the barefoot doctors” in a Shanghai commune; another article that December introduced the “cooperative medical service” in the Leyuan commune of Hubei (31–32). Technically speaking, “barefoot doctors” ceased to exist in 1985, when the health minister Chen Minzhang announced the end of the term's usage in official Chinese discourse (175). Few aspects of Maoist China have acquired global repute as positive as the barefoot doctor program. In the late 1970s, the program even appealed to the World Health Organization (WHO), which promoted it...
Barefoot Doctors and Western Medicine in China
Howard Chiang is assistant professor in the Department of History at the University of Warwick. He is the editor of Transgender China (2012), Queer Sinophone Cultures (2013, with Ari Larissa Heinrich), Psychiatry and Chinese History (2014), and Historical Epistemology and the Making of Modern Chinese Medicine (2015).
Howard Chiang; Barefoot Doctors and Western Medicine in China. East Asian Science, Technology and Society 1 December 2016; 10 (4): 493–495. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/18752160-3482935
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