China Sees Women's, Children's Health Greatly Improved over Past 40 Yrs

December 29, 2018
Editor: Xie Wen

China's healthcare undertakings have developed rapidly over the past 40 years, with medical technology and security continuously improved, according to the latest reports.

Furthermore, the country has seen improvements in basic public services and the overall level of the public's health systems.

Internationally, the main indicators for measuring the health of a country's residents are infant mortality, maternal mortality and average life expectancy.

In 2014, China achieved, ahead of schedule, the maternal and child health indicators stipulated in the UN Millennium Development Goals.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO)'s Success Factors for Women's and Children's Health report, China was listed as one of the 10 countries with a high maternal and child health performance whose experience has been promoted to the world.

In May, WHO released the World Health Statistics 2018. According to the data, in 2016, the life expectancy of Chinese babies at birth was 68.7 years, exceeding the global average by 5.4 years. The infant mortality rate and maternal mortality rate have also continued to decline year after year.

In 2016, the hospital delivery rate of pregnant women in China reached 99.8 percent. In 2018, treatment for breast, cervical and lung cancer were included in the special fund for treatment of major diseases.

In 2015, the life expectancy of women in China was 79.43, an increase of 2.06 years compared with that of 2010. Last year, the maternal mortality rate dropped to 19.6 per 100,000, and the average life expectancy reached 76.7 years.

The health level of Chinese residents is generally higher than the average level among those in middle- and high-income countries, and it has become one of the countries that have made the biggest progress, according to the Healthcare Access and Quality Index.

Since the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC), the state has provided women with healthcare services covering the entire reproductive cycle.

The guarantee of hospital delivery has directly promoted a significant decline in maternal mortality in the country. According to statistics in a report on the implementation of the National Program for Women's Development (2011-2020), the maternal mortality rate declined from 30 per 100,000 in 2010 to 21.7 per 100,000 in 2014.

Given the rapid urbanization after reform and opening up, health services for rural women have also been steadily advancing.

According to statistics, the rural maternal hospital delivery rate reached 99.4 percent in 2014; the rate of maternal hospital delivery in the country continued to maintain a high level in 2016, reaching 99.8 percent; and in 2017, the urban-rural gap in maternal mortality had basically been eliminated.

The uneven development of women's health status in China is caused by various factors such as historical ones.

The data indicated that in 2014, the maternal mortality rate in the western region was 32.7 per 100,000, which was 2.6 times that in the eastern region.

To this end, the government has taken various measures to improve the hospital delivery rate in the west of the country, and dispatched medical support teams.

For example, as of May 2017, Beijing had sent 534 medical personnel to 112 counties in 12 provinces and autonomous regions such as Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, Tibet Autonomous Region, Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, Qinghai and Hebei provinces to promote the development of local health and family planning from intellectual assistance, personnel training, project support, department building and group support.

In recent years, the central government has invested a total of 26.5 billion yuan to support rural women's public health service projects. In 2009, the so-called "two cancers" free screening for rural women has been included in the national major public health service projects, and has been jointly implemented by the National Health Commission (NHC), the Ministry of Finance and the ACWF.

By the end of 2017, free cervical cancer screenings had been conducted for 73.98 million rural women at bearing age, and the free breast cancer screenings for 13.64 million women. The implementation of the project has promoted the early detection and treatment of women's "two cancers" and effectively improved women's health.

Every relevant department has also joined efforts to make achievements together in a step-by-step manner.

They have formulated a timetable and road map for cancer screening for women in the new era.

This year, screenings for the so-called "two cancers" were carried out in all counties in poverty-stricken areas; in 2020, they realized the goal mentioned in the national program to raise the regular screening rate for women's common diseases to 80 percent; and, to improve the rate of early diagnosis and treatment of cervical and breast cancer.

At the National Health and Poverty Alleviation Three-Year Work Conference in July, Ma Xiaowei, director of the NHC, noted that they would include women's cervical, breast and lung cancer and pneumoconiosis into the special program for treatment of major diseases.

The ACWF has also applied for the "two cancers" health poverty alleviation insurance for women from the Central Lottery Public Welfare Fund, which has covered over three million urban and rural women including over 500,000 necessitous women, with a guarantee of over 100 billion yuan.

Since the 19th CPC National Congress, the universal medical insurance system has been improved fast, and the participation rate has remained stable at over 95 percent. The per capita financial subsidy for residents in medical insurance reached 490 yuan in 2018.

The reimbursement rate for outpatient and hospitalization expenses has remained stable at around 50 to 75 percent.

According to the data from the NHC, the country has fully established the major illness insurance system for residents. At present it has covered 1.05 billion people who have participated in the basic medical insurance scheme.

According to statistics, the mother-to-child transmission rate of HIV/AIDS in the country has dropped from 34.8 percent in 2011 to 4.9 percent in 2017 due to efforts made in the field.

The country has also intensified efforts on the equalization of basic public health services. By the end of 2017, the electronic health record filing rate had reached over 75 percent and the early pregnancy registration rate and postpartum visit rate had been raised to over 85 percent.

As of 2017, there were over 987,000 medical and health institutions in the country. The total number of medical and health personnel exceeded 11.74 million. The basic medical and health service system covering urban and rural areas was basically completed.

By 2017, over 300 cities and municipalities have offered family doctor contract service, and continuously improved the service quality of key populations, including seniors, pregnant women and patients with chronic diseases.

As of August, all provinces with poverty alleviation tasks had reported information on special treatment program for major illnesses, with 261,000 confirmed cases and 226,000 people treated.

Chinese women's perceptions of cancer and attitudes toward diseases have been undergoing a radical transformation over the past four decades.

Women's health, especially the prevention and control of incidence of female malignant tumors, has become a microcosm of the tremendous changes in the country's medical and health services during reform and opening up.

In fact, the number of cured and treated Chinese women with tumor-based diseases has significantly increased; and, the expectations and concepts of cancer patients have entirely changed from pursuing a longer life to a better life, which gives women a strong guarantee of their physical and mental health.

With the development of science and technology, the wide application of internet-based medical care will bring an unprecedented revolution to Chinese women's health.

Although the state has invested a large amount of money to provide "two cancers" screenings, the health awareness for many women in the vast rural areas still need to be improved, whilst the Internet can transmit anti-cancer concepts to women in a timely manner and improve their health concerns and awareness.

(Source: Cnwomen.com.cn/ Translated and edited by Women of China)

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