Jilin Province to Be Home to UN Health Tourism Project

A United Nations’ demonstration project for sustainable development, as well as health and wellness tourism, was launched at the Lianhuashan Ecotourism resort in Changchun, northeast China’s Jilin Province, in January 2019.

With support from the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the local government, the project aims to develop a sanatorium-like town which employs environmentally friendly agricultural practices, uses an ecologically sound energy supply system, waste management system and water distribution system and offers people the most up-to-date healthcare services.

According to the local government, a total of three billion yuan (449.1 million U.S. dollars), will be used to construct the 200-hectare town over the course of the next five years. Advanced technologies including big data, cloud storage and artificial intelligence will be applied to create a smart environment for customers to receive physical examinations, procure traditional Chinese medical treatments and enjoy a professional nursing service.

Devanand Ramiah, deputy director of UNDP China, said that the impact of aging on the economy and society is a big challenge being faced on a worldwide scale, China included. That’s why the UN has initiated the demonstration project in China and is exploring effective ways to take care of the aging population, such as establishing the health and wellness center.

According to China’s National Bureau of Statistics, around 249 million people in China reached the age of 60 by the end of last year, representing 17.9 percent of the country’s total population.

“Traditionally, elderly people in China used to rely on their families to take care of them, but now the graying of the population requires better health tourism packages and the upgrading of China’s health industry,” said Zhang Yi, deputy director-general of the China Center for International Economic Exchanges (CCIEE).

He said that, with its good air quality, over 10,000 hectares of forest, abundant hot springs and other favorable natural resources, Lianhuashan is up to the standard of a health and wellness town. The CCIEE plays a role by gathering domestic and foreign experts to make full use of the resources available to develop a model that can also be used as reference in other parts of China.
Ramiah said the UNDP will help with the setup of the project in three main ways. “We will look at policies and research on the subject of how to create the town, how to use technology to make sure that its footprint on the environment is minimal, and will provide younger people with more options to interact with older people.”

Zhang said by cooperating with the UNDP, they could learn from developed countries also facing the aging challenge.

“The project will also help to secure local employment, fuel Jilin’s economic development and revitalize Northeast China’s old industrial base,” he said.