Seniors’ death in hotel fire reveals nursing home shortage

By Zhang Hui Source:Global Times Published: 2018/8/29 20:18:41

The death of 20 senior citizens in a hotel fire in Harbin, Northeast China's Heilongjiang Province again highlights China's deep aging problem and insufficient nursing institutions.

The 20 seniors, with the oldest 85 years old, were on a tour group of 88 seniors who left Beijing to visit and observe nursing homes in Harbin, China Newsweek reported.

They stayed at a spa hotel on Friday, and the deadly fire occurred early Saturday. The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

China Newsweek reported that the spa hotel failed four fire inspections since 2017. 

Liang Zhongtang, a former expert at the National Health Commission, told the Global Times that tours of senior citizens visiting nursing homes have become popular in China as seniors in big cities, especially in Beijing, have to look for nursing homes in other provinces due to the growing aging population and shortage of nursing homes in their cities.

Hebei Province constructed nine nursing homes in Zhangjiakou and Cangzhou, among others, in 2017, the Beijing Youth Daily reported.

The number of senior citizens in China reached 230.8 million at the end of 2016, the Ministry of Civil Affairs announced in 2017. The country had 140,000 nursing homes with more than 7.3 million beds at the end of 2016. 

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