VI. Women and Health

The Chinese government considers women's health an area of priority in promoting gender equality and the development of women. Over the past decade, the state has promulgated and implemented such statutes as the Law of the People's Republic of China on Health Protection of Mothers and Infants and Law of the People's Republic of China on Population and Family Planning. It has also set the goals for women's health in the Outline for the Development of Chinese Women. The state has continuously increased its monetary input to improve the health of women and infants. It has gradually improved the women's healthcare service network. By the end of 2004, there were 2,997 healthcare institutes for women and children throughout China, with 243,000 beds for women.

Paying great attention to satisfying women's demands for healthcare service at all periods of their life, and extending women's life expectancy. For years, the healthcare departments at all levels have considered the examination and treatment of gynecological diseases routine work. Every year, over one third of married women under the age of 65 across China go through examinations for gynecological diseases. In 2004, some 37.3 percent of them had this examination. The government also pays attention to the health of teenagers and elderly women. It has launched educational campaigns in schools and neighborhood communities on knowledge about sex and the prevention of AIDS, so as to raise female teenagers' awareness of the importance of a healthy sex life and strengthen their self-protection ability. Scientific healthcare methods are disseminated through many channels, and more and more special outpatient services are available for elderly women, providing consultancy on healthcare and related services. As a result, the quality of life of elderly women has improved markedly. The average life expectancy for women was 74 years in 2003.

Lowering the mortality rate of women in pregnancy and childbirth to ensure the safety of the mother. In the 2000-2001 period, the state invested 200 million yuan in a project intended to "lower the mortality rate of women in pregnancy and childbirth and eliminate tetanus among the newborn," which covered 378 state-level poor counties. From 2002 to 2005, the central treasury and relevant local areas allocated an additional 400 million yuan for the continuation of this project, extending it to 1,000 counties and benefiting more than 300 million people. Over the past few years, hundreds of thousands of poor women have delivered children safely thanks to the support of this project. In addition, the Chinese government has made efforts to improve child delivery conditions in clinics in townships (towns). By taking measures such as opening emergency green channels for women in childbirth and giving financial support to poor women in childbirth, it has increased the number of women in the countryside who go to hospital to give birth, thereby increasing the safety of the mothers. In the past decade, the mortality rate of women in childbirth has declined steadily - from 61.9 per 100,000 in 1995 to 48.3 per 100,000 in 2004.

Actively promoting high-quality family planning services in line with the people-first principle to guarantee women's right to family planning. In 1995, out of consideration for women's reproductive health, the Chinese government launched the project of providing high-quality family planning services in line with the people-first principle. Centered on the demands of women of childbearing age, it informs women of their choices in terms of contraceptive methods, and encourages men to get involved in reproductive health activities. In addition, it gives adolescent girls consultancy on reproductive health. Over the past decade, this project has been promoted in more than 800 counties (cities, districts) all over China, satisfying the demand of women for family planning services and safeguarding their rights in this respect.

Making every effort to provide healthcare services to migrant women. As the population of migrants moving between rural and urban areas keeps increasing, the state, by following the principle of equal treatment, appropriate guidance, better management and quality services, has made great efforts to provide migrant women with the same family planning preferential policies and technical services as enjoyed by women with permanent residence. The Outline for the Development of Chinese Women emphasizes that the healthcare of pregnant women and women in childbirth among the migrant population should be included in the healthcare services for such women in the places they migrate to. The relevant government departments at all levels are exploring a special mode of healthcare service for migrant women in the neighborhood communities. Using a variety of channels, they provide education and consultancy on healthy sex and reproduction. They organize migrant women to have medical checkups, distribute contraceptive devices to them free of charge and give free services to poor migrant women in childbirth. These measures have improved the health of migrant women substantially.

Strengthening the prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS, showing special concern for women in this regard. In recent years, the state has paid great attention to the prevention and treatment of AIDS, set up the State Council Work Committee on the Prevention and Treatment of AIDS, and earmarked extra funds for this purpose. As a result, practical effects have been achieved in the prevention and treatment of AIDS. Faced with the trend of more and more women being infected with HIV/AIDS, the state considers the prevention of the spread of AIDS from mother to baby an important part of the healthcare work for women and children. In order to find an intervention mode and experience suited to China's conditions, a team made up of specialists has been created to do pilot work regarding the prevention of AIDS, stemming the spread of AIDS from mother to baby free of charge, showing special concern for pregnant women tested HIV positive and their babies. Relevant government departments have launched campaigns to educate the public about the prevention and treatment of AIDS, and provide relevant services, promote the use of condoms, and get more men involved in AIDS prevention so as to reduce the number of women infected. On World AIDS Day in 2004, activities were launched throughout China under the theme "Show Concern for Women, Say No to AIDS."

Encouraging NGOs to launch various activities to promote women's healthcare and widely carry out international cooperation. One of the many programs launched by the All-China Women's Federation is known as "Health Express for Mother," in which face-to-face publicity and educational activities under the theme "Stay away from AIDS to Benefit the Whole Family" were organized in 51 areas for the prevention and treatment of AIDS in a comprehensive way. The Family Planning Association of China has launched programs in which children and young people teach each other knowledge about the prevention of venereal diseases and AIDS in universities and middle schools, and among migrant teenagers. In the countryside, the association combines efforts to help women increase their income with healthcare for women and children, as well as family planning, effectively improving women's health conditions. In recent years, the Chinese government has conducted international cooperation with many international organizations, including the United Nations Fund for Population Activities, United Nations Children Fund, United Nations Development Fund for Women, World Bank, World Health Organization, and Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS, in the fields of hygiene for women and children, reproductive health, family planning, and the prevention and treatment of AIDS. This cooperation has produced good results. More than one third of the capital for programs to assist China under the management and coordination of the Ministry of Commerce is used to support healthcare services for women and children.