Barefoot Doctors

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In the People's Republic of China, the "cultural revolution" was the tumultuous period from 1965 to 1975 when young people reacted violently against the policies of the communist government that had been in power since 1949. The reforms that followed gave rise to widespread training of peasants in basic principles of environmental sanitation, communicable disease control, health education (on nutrition, safety, etc.), and treatment of minor ailments. The peasants were trained for three to six months at rural health centers of rural hospitals. Initially, these health workers were called "barefoot doctors." After the death of Chairman Mao Zedong in 1976, their training became more rigorous, they were required to pass examinations, and they were upgraded to "village doctors."

Milton I. Roemer

(see also: International Development of Public Health; International Health )


Sidel, R., and Sidel, V. W. (1982). The Health of China. Boston: Beacon Press.