Shi Yaozhong, member of the Third Session of the 12th Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) has proposed to increase the frequency of medical check-ups taken by pregnant women.
The advisor said that since mandatory requirements for prenatal medical check-ups ended in 2003, China has seen less and less women attending doctors' clinics before giving birth. Meanwhile, the congenital birth defect rate among babies has increased.
Each year, there are almost 900,000 cases of babies born with defects in China, among whom around 250,000 are only diagnosed after the delivery. The annual overall rate for those born with defects is about 5.6 percent.
Further situations have also contributed to the lowering rate of prenatal check-ups across the country. The issue lacks publicity and knowledge about the visits is scarce. Some young people think it is unnecessary since they already receive their general health examination each year. They miss the fact that the prenatal appointment is different from the normal health check, with more focus on the checking of diseases related to inheritance and reproduction.
Another barrier is that personal privacy in examinations can fall short of standards, which makes some mothers feel unrelaxed about the process.
The lack of regulation on the premarital health check may also lead to extraneous charges from the provider.
As for a solution, Shi, who is also deputy-mayor of Bazhong City in southwest China’s Sichuan Province, suggested that the government should strengthen their publicity and highlight the importance and necessity of receiving prenatal health check-ups. Young people should be better informed on both the health benefits and their social responsibility.
Another focus should be on improving the quality of prenatal health check-ups and lowering charges. Providing free prenatal health check-ups should be a goal for all local governments, according to the official.
Shi added the privacy of people who receive check-ups should also be better protected in future.
Prenatal health check-ups are the first line of prevention in controlling infant birth defects. Tackling this issue would contribute much to the improvement of the quality of the newly-born population as well as the future of the country,” said Shi.
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