Health concerns for travellers to Shànghǎi include worsening atmospheric pollution, traveller's diarrhoea and winter influenza. You can find a more than adequate standard of medical care in town, providing you have good travel insurance.
If you have arrived from South America or Central Africa you are required to show proof of a yellow-fever vaccination within the last 10 years.
Checking insurance quotes…
Before You Go
Be sure to purchase travel insurance before you depart; medical care in Shànghǎi can be expensive. Worldwide travel insurance is available at www.lonelyplanet.com/travel-insurance. You can buy, extend and claim online anytime – even if you’re already on the road.
There are no special vaccination requirements for visiting Shànghǎi, but you should consider vaccination against hepatitis A and B. Other vaccinations to consider are for diphtheria, tetanus, influenza, Japanese encephalitis, polio and typhoid. It's best to see your doctor three months in advance of your trip.
Traveller’s diarrhoea is the most common disease that a traveller will encounter in Shànghǎi. Many different types of organisms, usually bacteria (eg E. coli, salmonella), are responsible and the result is sudden diarrhoea and vomiting, or both, with or without fever. Hepatitis A and B are both common in the Shànghǎi area. Japanese encephalitis, which is transmitted by mosquitoes, is also present but restricted to more rural areas, particularly near rice fields. Typhoid fever is common throughout China and is caught from faecally contaminated food, milk and water. It manifests as fever, headache, cough, malaise and constipation or diarrhoea. Treatment is with quinolone antibiotics, and a vaccine is recommended before you travel.
There is a wealth of travel-health advice on the internet. Lonelyplanet.com is a good place to start. The World Health Organization (WHO) publishes a book called International Travel & Health, which is revised annually and is available for free online at www.who.int/publications/en.
It's also a good idea to consult your own government's official travel-health website before departure.
New Zealand (https://mfat.govt.nz)
UK (www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/china) Search for travel in the site index.
The air quality in Shànghǎi can be appalling, and can ruin your holiday, especially if you are sensitive to impurities in the air. If you suffer from asthma or other allergies you should anticipate a worsening of your symptoms in Shànghǎi and may need to increase your medication. Eye drops can be a useful addition to your travel kit; contact-lens wearers can experience discomfort here. Check pollution levels before you fly; click on http://aqicn.org/city/shanghai for the latest reading.
Don’t drink tap water or eat ice. Bottled water is readily available. Boiled water is OK.
Medical & Dental Clinics
Shànghǎi is credited with the best medical facilities and most advanced medical knowledge in mainland China. The main foreign embassies keep lists of the English-speaking doctors, dentists and hospitals that accept foreigners.
Huádōng Hospital Foreigners' clinic on the 2nd floor of building 3.
Huàshān Hospital Hospital treatment and outpatient consultations are available at the 8th-floor foreigners’ clinic, the Huashan Worldwide Medical Center, and there's 24-hour emergency treatment on the 15th floor in building 6.
International Peace Maternity Hospital Specialist hospital providing maternal care and child health care.
Parkway Health Numerous locations around town, including at Jìng’ān. Offers comprehensive private medical care from internationally trained physicians and dentists. Members can access after-hours services and an emergency hotline.
Ruìjīn Hospital Teaching hospital under the Shànghǎi Jiāotōng University School of Medicine.
Shànghǎi Children's Hospital Centrally located children's hospital.
Shànghǎi United Family Hospital This complete private hospital is Western-owned and managed, and staffed by doctors trained in the West. Medical facilities run to inpatient rooms, operating rooms, an intensive-care unit, birthing suites and a dental clinic.
The handy Hong Kong store Watson’s can be found in the basements of malls all over town (there’s a branch in Westgate Mall). It sells imported toiletries and a limited range of simple, over-the-counter pharmaceuticals.
For harder-to-find foreign medicines, try any pharmacy (药房; yàofáng), easily identified by a green cross outside; some have service through the night (via a small window). Nearly all pharmacies stock both Chinese and Western medicines. You may not need a doctor's prescription for some medicines that you need a prescription for at home (eg antibiotics), especially outside Shànghǎi, but check at the pharmacy.
Traditional Chinese Medicine
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) views the human body as an energy system in which the basic substances of qì (气; vital energy), jīng (精; essence), xuè (血; blood) and tǐyè (体液; body fluids, blood and other organic fluids) function. The concept of yīn (阴; yin) and yáng (阳; yang) is fundamental to the system. Disharmony between yin and yang or within the basic substances may be a result of internal causes (emotions), external causes (climatic conditions) or miscellaneous causes (work, exercise, stress etc). Treatment includes acupuncture, massage, herbs, diet and qì gōng (气功), which seeks to bring these elements back into balance. Treatments can be particularly useful for treating chronic diseases and ailments such as fatigue, arthritis, irritable bowel syndrome and some chronic skin conditions.
Be aware that ‘natural’ does not always mean ‘safe’; there can be drug interactions between herbal medicines and Western medicines. If using both systems, ensure you inform both practitioners what the other has prescribed.
Traditional Chinese Medicine Clinics
Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) is extremely popular in Shànghǎi, both for prevention and cure. There are many Chinese medicine shops, but English is not widely spoken. Chiropractic care, reflexology and acupuncture are popular, but check that disposable needles are used.
Body and Soul TCM Clinic International staff integrating TCM and Western medical practices. There are three clinics in town. Acupuncture and tuīná (traditional) massage available.
Lónghuá Hospital Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine A kilometre northeast of Shànghǎi Indoor Stadium. A full range of TCM therapies and treatments.
Shànghǎi Qìgōng Institute Part of Shànghǎi’s TCM school, the Qìgōng Institute offers qì gōng (qì-energy development) treatments and massage, as well as acupuncture sessions. No English is spoken; appointments necessary.
Shǔguāng Hospital Situated next to Huaihai Park, this hospital has a full range of TCM health care. The hospital is affiliated with the Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine.