Asia – health conditions

The large differences between the disease patterns in the individual countries of Asia reflect the very large differences between the countries’ economic development and infrastructure.

In East Asia, Japan has reached the highest life expectancy in the world, and at the same time there has been strong economic growth in China and South Korea, which has led to a gradually improving state of health. These countries have also gained better control over population growth.

According to Countryaah, South Asia’s populous states of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh have high child mortality and low life expectancy. With roughly the same stage of development, Sri Lanka has achieved reduced child mortality and higher life expectancy.

West Asia’s oil-rich states have had large financial resources available, which has been used to expand the social infrastructure. Despite this, in several of the countries it has not led to any significant improvement in the state of health of the rural population and the guest workers.

The Central Asian area with Asian Russia and the southern republics is characterized by the dissolution of the Soviet Union, which has led to economic problems and a decline in the quality of infrastructure. Hereby the risk of the flare-up of e.g. waterborne diseases, diphtheria and measles increased.

In South and South Asia, many countries have poor water supply with consequent high mortality due to diarrheal diseases, especially in children. In these areas there is widespread malnutrition and malnutrition. In many countries, malaria, leprosy and tuberculosis continue to occur. So far, the incidence of patients with AIDS is low.


Tibet is a self-governing region in western China. It is sometimes called the “roof of the world” because it is located on a high plateau 4000 meters above sea level. Among Tibetans, there are many who believe that Tibet, once its own kingdom, has the right to be its own state. Tibetans are Buddhists and their spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, has been back in the country for decades. Monk uprising and demonstrations have helped to tighten Beijing’s control over Tibet, and residents’ ability to use their language and practice their religion and culture has been limited.

Geography and population

The autonomous region of Tibet (Xizang on pinyin) is located in western China on a high plateau at an altitude of 4,000 meters. Tibet has an area of ‚Äč‚Äčover 1.2 million square kilometers. According to the 2010 census, 2.8 million ethnic Tibetans live in Tibet.

Tibet consists of the world’s largest high plateau and is surrounded by vast mountain ranges: the Himalayas, Karakorum and Kunlun.

The climate on the northern plateau is extremely harsh with painfully windy and severe cold all year round. Only in the deepest river valleys are forests and cultivated land. Tibetans, considered to be descended from nomads in Central Asia, have lived for thousands of years on the southern high plains with their herds of yaks, goats and sheep.

There are also Tibetans in the Chinese neighboring provinces of Gansu, Qinghai, Sichuan and Yunnan. In addition, Tibetans are also found in neighboring countries Bhutan, Nepal and India. According to the 2010 census, about 90 per cent of Tibetans are reported to be ethnic Tibetans. Some observers claim that the Chinese and other non-Tibetans make up a larger proportion of the population. Tibetan and national Chinese are official languages.

Tibetan literature, which was particularly rich during the 7th century and following centuries, consists mostly of theological commentary and develops a distinctive form of Buddhism: Lamaism. Religion permeates society, and the highest priest of Lamaism the Dalai Lama is worshiped as the spiritual leader of the Tibetans.

History and politics

The Tibetans proclaimed Tibet an independent state since China was expelled in 1912. But by the middle of the century, the newly established Communist regime in Beijing regained control of the area, and in the coming years, several attempts at rebellion among the Tibetans ceased. In 1959, the Tibetan Dalai Lama fled to northern India, where an exile government was established. In the decades that followed, Beijing has strengthened its grip on Tibet.

In the 600s, the Tibetans united in a militarily strong kingdom. 600 years later, Tibet came under Mongol rule, followed by clergy under Mongol protection. From that time, today’s leaders in Beijing want to count Tibet as an inseparable part of China. In the 19th century, Tibet became the subject of conflict between the major powers China, Russia and the United Kingdom. In 1904, British troops invaded the capital Lhasa. Six years later, China re-entered Tibet, after Britain acknowledged China’s supremacy over the area. After the fall of the empire in China in 1912, the Chinese troops were expelled. However, the independence proclaimed for Tibet was never established internationally. In 1950, Chinese forces again invaded, and Tibet was forced to acknowledge China’s supremacy against the Chinese pledging to respect Tibetan religion and customs. In practice, however, the country began to be radically transformed to be fully incorporated into China. After a series of uprisings and a failed revolt in 1959, Tibet’s fourteenth Dalai lama, Tenzin Gyatso, fled to northern India with hundreds of thousands of followers and set up an exile government there. In 1965, Tibet became an autonomous region of the People’s Republic of China. During the Cultural Revolution the grip hardened, the religion was suppressed and thousands of Tibetan monasteries destroyed.

The Beijing government has invested large sums on social and economic development, as the area is strategically important for China. Still, the Tibetans’ living standards are significantly lower than those of the average Chinese. In 2005, a 110-kilometer-long railway to Lhasa from Qinghai Province was completed – a connection that, according to critical voices, opens even more for the economic exploitation of Tibet.

In the 1980s, the Chinese began to show a greater understanding of the ethnic and cultural characteristics of the region. Several monasteries, ravaged by Mao’s Red Guardians, were rebuilt and the Dalai Lama’s residence Potala Palace renovated. Antique Chinese crows have been breaking out in Lhasa since the 1980s in connection with the annual Great Prayer Feast, when the pilgrims gather at the ancient Jokhang Temple. The protests have been hard-fought.

In 2008, peaceful demonstrations organized by monks in Lhasa developed into clashes between monks, civilians and security forces. The protests also spread to Tibetans in nearby provinces. Beijing leaders sent more troops to Tibet and control tightened. Official sources said 19 people had been killed by protesters, while Tibetan exile organizations estimated that at least a hundred people were killed by Chinese soldiers. According to Tibetan exile organizations, at least 700 Tibetans were imprisoned, at least half were monks and nuns.

China’s Prime Minister Wen Jiabao accused the Dalai lama of planning the protest storm as an attempt to sabotage the Beijing Summer Olympics in August of that year. However, it was denied by the Dalai lama, who had called on the protesters to stop the protests. But he also accused Beijing of a “cultural genocide ” on Tibetans. Reports of monks who were beaten to death or imprisoned as well as security troops who shot into crowds during demonstrations continued to come a few years into the 2010s.

The Dalai Lama, which received the Nobel Peace Prize for its non-violent struggle in 1989, insists that China should guarantee and respect the Tibetans’ democratic freedoms and rights and give them significantly greater autonomy than they have today, so-called “meaningful autonomy”. He never demanded full independence for Tibet, but accepted that China should continue to govern its foreign and defense policy. The Chinese government did not accept the Dalai Lama’s election of the Panchen Lama (the second highest spiritual leader) in 1995, but appointed its own representative. Since 2002, several talks have been held between the Dalai Lama and representatives of the leaders in Beijing.

In March 2011, the 75-year-old Dalai llama announced that he wanted to step down as political leader of the exile government. However, he intended to remain as the spiritual leader of the Tibetans. On March 20 of the same year, a new leader of the exile government was held and elections to the Tibetan exile parliament were held. Lobsang Sangay, a Tibetan lawyer from India who trained at Harvard in the United States, received just over half of the vote and took office in August as new head of government and thus the Dalai Lama’s political successor. Sangay was re-elected as head of government in April 2016. He received 57 percent of the exile Tibetan votes.

In the early 2010s, human rights organizations reported that two million Tibetans were forcibly relocated to new areas where villages were created under the leadership of party officials with the aim of developing a socialist countryside. Since 2009, 130 Tibetans, including many Buddhist monks, have set fire to themselves in protest against the Chinese repression. Chinese authorities have responded by tightening control and several people have been jailed for allegedly inciting self-incrimination.


The Beijing government has invested large sums on social and economic development, as Tibet is strategically important to China. Still, the Tibetans’ living standards are significantly lower than those of the average Chinese. In 2005, a 110-kilometer-long railroad to Lhasa from Qinghai Province was completed – a connection that, according to critical voices, has opened even more for economic exploitation of Tibet.

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