China has drawn up a national plan for improving primary health care in rural areas, aiming to make services accessible to all rural residents who make up about 80 percent of its population.
By the year 2010, the mortality of pregnant women and women in childbirth should be 25 percent lower than 2000 levels, and the death rate of infants should drop by 20 percent as a result of improved maternal and child health care, says the 2001-2010 Outline for the Development of Primary Health Care in Rural Areas of China.
Mortality for pregnant women and women in childbirth in China's rural areas in 2000 was close to 70 in every 100,000, and the infant death rate was about 32 per thousand, according to the Ministry of Health (MOH).
The rates were higher than either national averages or those in cities, where better medical and health care services were provided, acknowledged MOH officials.
The goal of promoting primary health care in rural areas was to give basic medical services to every resident, MOH official Zhang Chaoyang said, adding that it "means a fair society."
Zhang noted that the work was also vital for the global fulfillment of a health-for-all goal set by the World Health Organization (WHO).
In order to dramatically improve the health of pregnant women and children, the percentage of pregnant women who receive regular health checks and give birth at hospitals should be increased, and child nutrition levels should be improved, say the outline, which was published in Beijing on Monday.
Governments at all levels will be held responsible for implementing the program.
In the coming years, departments of development planning, finance, public health, agriculture and environmental protection will work jointly to control infectious and endemic diseases, vermin and occupational illnesses, so as to help further improve village clinics, and to increase the use of clean drinking water and toilets which meet certain sanitary standards.
(China Daily June 11, 2002)