Dr. Carlos Aparacio at the Sky Clinic, Shanghai

If you’ve ever sat in an international medical clinic and felt just as homesick as you did sick, you’ll know that it takes more than English-speaking staff to make healthcare feel like home.

Perhaps that’s why some clinics in Shanghai, such as Sky Clinic, offer services not just in English, but also other languages, including Hindi, Spanish and Russian. Here’s just a few reasons why, for expats in China, there’s a large gap to negotiate when it comes to healthcare.

For a few thousand years, Chinese and Western medicine evolved in different directions altogether. Western medicine is prevalent in Shanghai today, but companies such as Glaxosmithkline and Merck only entered China within the last 15 years.

Today, many Chinese hospitals provide traditional Chinese medicine as well as Western medicine. Some of Shanghai’s pharmacies provide no allopathic medicines at all.

English-speaking staff are standard in Shanghai’s international hospitals, but only a few establishments, including Sky Clinic, provide prescriptions and instructions in English, Spanish, Hindi and Russian. Sky Clinic also have  translators on hand in case patients need to communicate with sister hospitals.

For expats in China and elsewhere, just the move to a different country can be enough to send their health spiraling into jeopardy. The sudden change in diet as well as the air quality can deeply affect the ways our bodies function, often resulting in digestive, respiratory or even skin problems. In some cases, being away from home can have a great impact in our psyche, which as often than not can lead to depression.

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