The State Family Planning Commission will extend health and family planning publicity and education campaigns to rural areas in the coming years.
The commission wants to knit a national network of training and consulting to carry out this mission while also improving health services, officials said.
Much work has already been done. Millions of rural families have received tips on AIDS prevention, pregnancy, sterilization and sex life improvement.
The campaign also has helped to change the traditional concept on reproduction which prefers more children and especially more sons.
But further efforts are warranted, said State Family Planning Commission Minister Zhang Weiqing at a national conference yesterday.
"Positive messages are coming from East China's Anhui Province to the Northwest's Shaanxi, where rural neighborhoods are accepting the concept of sexual equality and where women have more latitude in their sex and family life," Zhang said.
Still, an about-face in the poor rural areas cannot happen overnight, where poverty interferes with education, Zhang said.
The country's fledging social security mechanism has yet to spread into rural regions, creating pressing health problems.
The minister urged the development of a broad new social security system to help this population.
China has stepped up efforts to improve public access to health-care and reproduction knowledge in the last decade as the nation confronts the challenge of improving the lifestyles of the world's largest population.
To balance the population growth with the economic development, China is encouraging people to delay the age they have a child and to have smaller families.
(China Daily October 22, 2001)