The Sick Man of East Asia

Good lord, you wouldn’t believe the extent of China’s public health crisis:

— Half the population is estimated to be prediabetic (suffering from metabolic syndrome/diabesity).

— 12% of the populace now has diabetes, roughly 115 million people.

— An estimated 70% of China’s diabetics are undiagnosed; only 25% are receiving any treatment and of the 25%, the disease is only being controlled in 40% of those getting treatment.

— Noncommunicable diseases–cardiovascular disease, chronic respiratory diseases and cancer, account for 85% of total deaths in China today — much higher than the global average of 60%.

— Mental disorders rose by more than 50 percent between 2003 and 2008. An estimated 17.5% of the population (225 million) suffers from some form of mental problem, one of the highest rates in the world.

— More than 300 million people in China — roughly equivalent to the entire U.S. population of 317 million — smoke tobacco.

— 200 million workers are directly exposed to occupational hazards.

— Informal estimates suggest a large percentage of the urban population suffers from lung/pulmonary diseases. Over the last 30 years, deaths ascribed to lung cancer have risen by a factor of five in China.

— 160 million Chinese adults have hypertension (high blood pressure).


These are the numbers today, before China’s looming demographic crash. Incidents of cancer, heart disease, dementia, and other age- and smoking/dietary-related conditions are bound to shoot up even higher.

This might very well be the largest and most underreported crisis in the world today — and the finances and logistics for healing such a major fraction of the world’s population simply don’t — can’t! — exist.

Are we set to witness the de-industrialization of China, as its people grow older and sicker, without enough young people coming up to pick up the slack and take care of the old and sick?

China has been investing heavily in manufacturing robotics, but they’d better become the world leader in medical robotics — and quickly.

Join the conversation as a VIP Member