5 Measures to Guarantee Maternal, Infant Health

February 11, 2018
Editor: Chen Caixia

The health status of Chinese women and children gradually improved in 2017, with the mortality rate for children under five decreasing to 9.1 per 1,000, according to a national conference.

The 2018 National Working Conference on Women and Children's Health was held on February 1 in Beijing.

Ma Xiaowei, deputy head of the National Health and Family Planning Commission (NHFPC), said that measures including extra emergency centers and training more staff at the grassroots level will be intensified over the next two years.

Better Service 

It is estimated that the number of older women becoming pregnant and the cases of higher risk pregnancies will continue to increase for the next several years, since the country allowed married couples to have two children from 2016. (The one-child policy was implemented decades ago to rein in a surging population.)

This will pose sustained pressure to hospital facilities and staff, and may result in higher risk births.

Therefore, central China's Henan province took various measures to cope with the second-child policy, by making birth-defect prevention part of its provincial health promotion program and including it in its development plan during the 13th Five-Year period.

Maternal and child health service systems are continuously being optimized across China. 

Up till now, China has 460,000 health workers and 3,079 maternity and child healthcare institutes, providing better services to women and children.
The healthcare institutes have 207,000 emergency beds, 3,378 emergency centers for higher risk pregnancies and 2,808 treatment centers for severely-ill neonatal patients.

Rural and urban women and children enjoy equal access to health treatment, and 99.8 percent of pregnant women choose to give birth in the hospital.

China's maternal mortality rate fell to 19.6 per 100,000 in 2017. The rate of infant mortality also dropped last year to 6.8, narrowing the gap between China and the developed world.

Attributing the achievements to the maternal risk screening and treatment system, China also called for improved maternal and child healthcare services by allocating more resources to the grassroots level.

5 Acts Accelerate Maternal, Infant Safety 

Firstly, institutes with delivery qualifications and administrative departments at all levels should launch safe motherhood initiatives, prevent pregnancy risks, deal with severe emergency cases and improve medical skills.

Secondly, China should strengthen the top-level design and perfect its long-term mechanism to better prevent birth defects.

Thirdly, China should activate the Healthy Kids Program and provide comprehensive care to children during the whole process of their growth through childrearing, breeding, caring and educating.

Fourthly, China should offer high-quality services to help more women scientifically tackle the problems of pregnancy, birth control and infertility; promote the restructuring of technique involving family planning services; and better satisfy the public needs for reproductive health in terms of childbearing, contraception and infertility. 

Lastly, China should optimize its allocation of healthcare resources, coordinate urban and rural development and integrate disease prevention and treatment.

According to Ma, the NHFPC will attach great importance to the screening of breast and cervical cancer, infant diseases and implement the program to improve nutrition status of children in 2018.

The commission will also increase its financial support, strengthen the construction of health institutes and better serve those in impoverished countryside areas.

There should be at least one public maternal and child healthcare institution in each county by 2020, according to the commission.

(Source: China Women's News/Translated and edited by Women of China)

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