V. Satisfying the Reproductive
Health Needs of People of Child-bearing Age

While advocating family planning, China has mainly focused on contraception. Providing family planning information, consultation and services is an important measure in promoting family planning. The Chinese government attaches great importance to meeting the various and multi-level needs of people of child-bearing age by relying on progress in science and technology, and the study and development of the methods of family planning and contraception. In addition, the government has also established family planning and maternity and child care service networks throughout the country to provide people of child-bearing age with safe, effective and convenient services of family planning and reproductive health care, thus ensuring the smooth expansion of family planning.

Back in the 1960s, China embarked on scientific research on contraception, and soon made a large number of achievements, which were popularized all over the country. In the 1980s, China formulated the programme for the scientific and technological development of family planning, and has formed an initial, geographically rationally distributed system for family planning scientific research and the production of contraceptives. China has produced contraceptive and birth control technological services providing a great variety of methods for people to select as they wish. China leads the world in the research on male contraception techniques, some of which have been listed as the ones to be promoted by the World Association of Voluntary Surgical Contraception (AVSC). China has also made quite a number of important achievements in research of female contraception techniques, some of which have been extensively used in China and abroad. China has been included among those advanced countries in the development of contraceptives. While improving the quality of existing contraceptives, China is sparing no effort to develop safer, more effective, more convenient and cheaper contraceptives. To meet the demands of people of child-bearing age for contraceptives, the state has organized more than 40 factories and invested nearly 200 million yuan in the production of various contraceptives every year. Now the production of contraceptives in China has basically become self-sufficient.

To ensure that people of child-bearing age can receive required services at any time and in any place, China has established countrywide family planning service networks consisting of hospitals, maternity and child care centres and family planning service stations. Following the principle of catering to grass-roots units, going deep into the countryside, offering services to people's doorsteps and providing conveniences to the people, family planning workers provide people of child-bearing age with guidance, advice and services, and help them select favourable contraceptive methods according to their health and needs. In light of the actual conditions in rural areas, women of child-bearing age there with one child are encouraged to use intrauterine device and either the wife or husband of a couple with two children is encouraged to undergo sterilization, which are safe and effective contraceptive measures favourable to the protection of women's health. Therefore they are more easily accepted by rural couples of child-bearing age. As to those couples who are unsuitable or unwilling to accept such measures, family planning workers guide them to select other contraceptive measures according to their needs. At present, more than 200 million married couples of child-bearing age in China have adopted contraceptive measures, making up about 80 percent of the country's total.

Starting from the 1960s, China distributed contraceptives free of charge, and exempted and reduced the fees for birth control technical services. Since 1988, China has implemented the system of combining the supply of free contraceptives with retail sales in the market, thus widening the supply channels, providing conveniences to the people, satisfying their needs and raising the utilization rate of contraceptives. To ensure that people can get contraceptives in time, specialized organs have been set up or special personnel assigned for this purpose from the provincial and city down to the township and village levels.

The Chinese government is against promoting induced abortion as a means of family planning. China allows women who require induced abortion to have such an operation under safe and reliable conditions. Along with the popularization of the scientific knowledge of family planning and the extensive adoption of contraceptive measures, the number of induced abortions has been on the decline in many places. When China's birth rate drops sharply, the annual ratio between the number of newly born babies and that of induced abortions has retained at around 1:0.3, equivalent to the medium level in the world.

To guarantee the health of babies and mothers, China has made efforts to improve medical and health care conditions and strengthen health care services for women and children while doing a job in family planning. Consequently, the improvement of women's and children's health has also promoted family planning. China has set up health care networks for women and children all over the country. Several thousand maternity and child care centres provide various services, including the general survey, prevention and treatment of women's diseases, consultation on hereditary diseases, examination before marriage, health care for pregnant and postpartum women, new delivery methods, health care for babies and young children, etc. The family planning departments in many places have initiated health-care-at-childbirth services for couples of child-bearing age. In spite of their comparatively backward medical and health care conditions, the health care and family planning departments in some economically underdeveloped regions have organized people to provide services to the people at their doorsteps to protect women and children's health, so that they are highly acclaimed by the people.