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September 15, 1989

Medicine in Rural China: A Personal Account

JAMA. 1989;262(11):1533-1534. doi:10.1001/jama.1989.03430110131048

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"It may take people a long time to realize the significance of [a] new, progressive and far-reaching idea," says Dr C. C. Chen, an internationally known pioneer in the Chinese health experience and current professor of community medicine at West China University of Medical Sciences, Chengdu. Chen has devoted nearly six decades to diffusing modern medicine in rural China. The search for the best means of doing so has been the central concern of his life and is the central thesis of his memoirs, Medicine in Rural China: A Personal Account.

When C. C. Chen graduated from the Rockefeller Foundation—sponsored Peking Union Medical College (PUMC) in China in 1929, more than 85% of the Chinese lived in villages, almost entirely beyond the reach of modern medical care. Facing poverty, ignorance, poor health, and lack of public spirit, Chen determinedly went to Dingxian, a rural district in North China, to pioneer