The “barefoot doctor” (chijiao yisheng), which is to say a doctor who also worked as a farmer in a commune production brigade, was an iconic figure that emerged during China's Cultural Revolution. Barefoot doctors received basic medical training so they could provide treatment, perform public health work, and support family planning in rural villages. Deploring the fact that medical resources were concentrated in urban areas, in 1965, Mao Zedong demanded that a vast effort be mounted to provide rural areas with good health care. He promoted plans to send educated youth to the countryside, while equipping both poor peasants and sent-down high school students with basic medical training in a short period of time. This policy gave rise to the barefoot doctors.

Past research on barefoot doctors has mainly focused on their role in the Chinese medical system, and their influence on that system's success, failure, and feasibility....

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