Thu, 21 Jan 2021

With improved healthcare, longevity is no longer just a wish for Tibetans. The average life expectancy in the plateau region has risen from 35.5 before 1959 to 70.6 years.

LHASA, Dec. 22 (Xinhua) -- Badro from Lhasa, capital city of Tibet Autonomous Region, recently celebrated his 100th birthday.

"If I fall ill, I'm well taken care of. I have healthcare insurance. I have nothing to worry about," said the centenarian.

Photo taken in 2019 shows people celebrate the 99th birthday of Badro at his home in Lhasa, southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region. (Xinhua/Purbu Zhaxi)

Living on "the roof of the world," Badro was once one of the more than 1 million people who lived on the bottom rung of society under the theocratic feudal serf system before it was abolished in 1959. The southwestern Chinese region had just three clinics with less than 100 medical workers, and the average life expectancy was just 35.5.

"In old Tibet, when we got sick, we could only go to the soothsayer and pray," said Badro, "I'm glad that I have survived those dark times."

Sonam Drolma, 109, talks with her great granddaughters in the courtyard at home in Reguo Village of Gyaca County in Shannan, southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region, March 24, 2020. (Xinhua/Zhan Yan)

Today, longevity is no longer just a wish for Tibetans. The average life expectancy in the region has risen to 70.6 years, while the population has expanded to 3.44 million in 2018 from 1.23 million in 1959.

With 1,642 hospitals and clinics and 26,150 medics working across the region, Tibet has seen significant triumphs in health indicators including the infant and children mortality rate, the maternal mortality rate and the hospital delivery rate over the last five years.

Xu Yuanyuan (C) and Xia Hongdeng (R), medical staff from east China's Anhui Province, instruct as a local medical worker undergoes medical treatment for a newborn baby at the People's Hospital in Shannan, southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region, April 24, 2019. (Xinhua/Zhang Rufeng)

Treatments for more than 400 major diseases are now available at hospitals across the region. Thanks to thorough health screenings and free treatment, infections of hydatid disease, a fatal disease linked to tapeworms and once common in Tibetan herders, have dropped to 0.26 percent.

Sonam Drolma (R), 109, interacts with her sister in Reguo Village of Gyaca County in Shannan, southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region, March 24, 2020. (Xinhua/Purbu Zhaxi)

Starting from Jan. 1, Tibet has replaced separate rural and urban medical insurance schemes with a unified service, giving urban and rural residents equal benefits.

Elderly people play games at a nursing center in Nagarze County of Shannan City, southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region, July 30, 2020. (Xinhua/Zhang Rufeng)

Badro is one of 375 people above 70 years old in his township of Deqen.

"I hope I can live even longer and see an even more prosperous Tibet," Badro said as his birthday wish. ■

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