Maternal, infant mortality drop to record low in China

Updated: Jul 11, 2023 Xinhua Print
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Nurses look after newborns at the Gansu Province Maternity and Child Health Hospital in Lanzhou, Gansu province, in January. [Photo by Pei Qiang/For China Daily]

BEIJING -- China's maternal and infant mortality rates both dropped to historic lows in 2022, according to data from the National Health Commission.

The country's maternal death rate dropped from 43.2 per 100,000 in 2002 to 15.7 per 100,000 in 2022, while infant mortality declined from 37.6 per 1,000 in the early days of reform and opening-up to 4.9 per 1,000 last year, official figures show.

The mortality rate of children under 5 fell to 6.8 per 1,000 in 2022, marking another record low, according to the commission.

The World Health Organization considers average life expectancy, infant and maternal mortality rates as the main indicators of the health level of a country's people.

China aims to reduce the maternal mortality rate to under 12 per 100,000 and the mortality rate of children under 5 to less than 6 per 1,000 by 2030, said Song Li, head of the commission's department of maternal and child health.

The government is implementing a package of action plans to improve maternal and child health, while making related services more equitable, accessible and convenient.

At present, the testing rate of HIV/AIDS, syphilis and hepatitis B in pregnant women is over 99 percent in China, while the mother-to-child transmission rate of HIV/AIDS has dropped to 3 percent amid efforts to prevent mother-to-child transmission of these diseases.

Since 2009, China has been promoting a program to raise cervical and breast cancer screening.

Covering over 90 percent of county-level regions across the nation, the program has provided free cervical cancer screening for 180 million women and free breast cancer screening for nearly 100 million women.

The National Health Commission also launched a nationwide project this year to provide infants under 3 and their caregivers with nutritional feeding assessments, counseling and guidance, as well as parenting risk screening and regular health management follow-up services, especially aimed at those in rural areas.

"China has been reforming its medical services for children in recent years," said Ni Xin, director of the National Center for Children's Health, noting that the government has set up one national and five regional children's medical centers to ensure more equitable allocation of pediatric medical resources in different regions.

The National Health Commission would take steps to ensure more quality resources go to grassroots medical institutions, while implementing stimulus measures to ensure that pediatricians are well trained and willing to stay at the primary level, Song said.

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