China is becoming an increasingly significant global presence, boasting a population of over 1.37 billion and maintaining the second largest national land area. Both the enormous population and the abundant geographical diversity make China a particularly interesting case study on diseases. These are four of the most common diseases in China:

  1. Hepatitis A virus: Transmitted through contaminated food or water, hepatitis A has seen several large outbreaks in China, most notably those in the southern and northwestern regions of the country in 2006. The U.S. National Library of Medicine has calculated that the epidemic rate of hepatitis A in China hovers around 80.9%. Hepatitis A is a common disease in developing countries and has the potential to cause death.
  2. Bacterial diarrhea: Diarrhea is a formidable global health issue, and is the second-highest death risk for children in developing nations. China is no exception. The risk for contraction is high in low-income regions. In a year, approximately 70 million individuals in China suffer from bacterial diarrhea, and about 10,000 children die from it. Dehydration and impaired gastrointestinal function are characteristic of bacterial diarrhea.
  3. Typhoid fever: Similar to bacterial diarrhea and hepatitis A, typhoid fever is commonly contracted through the consumption of contaminated food or water. Twenty-two million people around the globe are infected annually, but most deaths from typhoid occur in Asia. The World Health Organization began intensive typhoid vaccination and surveillance efforts in Southeast Asia and the West Pacific between 2009 and 2013. Symptoms include high fever, weakness, stomach pain and, in rare cases, death.
  4. Diabetes: With around 10 percent of the population affected, diabetes is one of the most common diseases in China. Over half of the population has been diagnosed with pre-diabetes, meaning they are at high risk for developing either Type 2 diabetes and/or heart disease. Diets high in both sodium and fat, as well as little to no physical activity, put people at high risk for diabetes. Diabetes is responsible for one million deaths in China each year.

The path to a healthier China requires changes in both diet and lifestyle, as well as safer food and water sources. The Chinese government and organizations such as the U.S. Centers for Disease Control are continuing their efforts in controlling and preventing these common diseases in China.

Kailey Dubinsky

Photo: Flickr