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7. Yan’an’s Health Services under Mao Zedong’s Leadership, 1937–1945

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Chapter Summary

The health challenges in northwest China were among the most arduous anywhere in the country. Northwest China was a land of arid but minerally rich soil, whose people for years had been battered by famine and communicable disease. During the great north China drought of 1920-1921, 500,000 people were estimated to have died while nearly 20 million were believed to be destitute. The organization of health services in Yan'an and surrounding base areas developed despite lack of trained personnel, facilities, equipment, medications and funds, and under the threat of enemy bombardment and scorched earth campaigns. From Mao Zedong's perspective it was essential to develop health services that could perform the tactical function of saving lives while pursuing the long-term strategic function of promoting revolution and political transformation. Yan'an's leaders did not neglect political training and logistical service as part of the overall organization of medical workers.

Keywords: health services; Mao Zedong; Northwest China; Yan'an



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