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Emerg Med Australas. 2013 Jun;25(3):252-9. doi: 10.1111/1742-6723.12080. Epub 2013 May 20.

Disease pattern and chronic illness in rural China: the Hong Kong Red Cross basic health clinic after 2008 Sichuan earthquake.

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Collaborating Centre for Oxford University and CUHK for Disaster and Medical Humanitarian Response, School of Public Health and Primary Care, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Prince of Wales Hospital, Hong Kong SAR, China.



Medical teams might have difficulties preparing for deployment to rural towns due to a lack of prior information. The study objective was to identify the health needs and chronic disease prevalence of rural Chinese following a major earthquake.


Hong Kong Red Cross organised a basic healthcare team to Yanmen town, Jiangyou 3 weeks after the 2008 Sichuan earthquake. A cross-sectional records-based study of all patients treated by the Hong Kong Red Cross basic healthcare team from 1 June to 19 June 2008 was conducted.


Two thousand and thirty-four individual patient encounters occurred during the 19-day period. Musculoskeletal, respiratory and gastrointestinal problems were the top three categories and accounted for 30.4%, 17.4% and 12.7%, respectively. The 43.4% of the 762 patients with blood pressure measurements were above the recognised criteria for hypertension.


We identified that the management of chronic diseases was an important issue, especially with the high prevalence of hypertension found in our study. Medical responders need to be aware of the potential pre-existing disease burden in the community, with the possible exacerbation in post-disaster situations. Careful planning on the use of treatment guidelines with particular focus on the local health resources available and issues with continuation of care will provide better care for the patients.

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