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Education Key to Family Planning Services

The State Family Planning Commission will spare no efforts to promote client-oriented reproductive health services and stop any coercive practices that violate the country's family planning policy, a spokeswoman for the commission said Friday.

The commission will also extend the practice of "quality of care" throughout the country, spokeswoman Zhao Baige said.

The State Family Planning Commission instructs local family planning commissions to reach their objectives through communication, by motivating voluntary compliance to contraception as opposed to abortion -- and continuous efforts as opposed to periodic campaigns.

To improve "quality of care,'' the commission will promote "informed choices.'' These include educating and guiding couples of childbearing age to use safe contraceptives according to their preferences, encouraging the diagnosis and treatment of obstetric diseases, and disseminating complete and unbiased information about reproductive health and childbirth-related health issues.

Zhao reiterated that coercive practices such as asking people accept a particular contraceptive method without discussing, which one is preferred, must be banned.

Zhao also criticized Huaiji, an impoverished county in Guangdong Province, for its recent "periodic campaigns'' in which the local government organized women of child-bearing age to receive sterilization services or intrauterine device services without offering any information about alternative contraceptive methods.

The local government raised funds to purchase nutritious foods for women who have had reproductive surgery. A portion of the funds was collected from remuneration bonuses given to local family planning workers.

Such practices are never encouraged by the central government, said Zhao, adding that the local government in Huaiji has been asked to stop its activities and re-educate officials about the country's principles for implementing family planning programs.

According to Zhao, the Chinese Government has always placed a high priority on information, education, communication, contraception and regular services.

However, the incidence of individual cases such as those in Huaiji testifies once again that the task is long-term and arduous, Zhao said.

"That is why we still need continuous co-operation from international organizations and experts to introduce new concepts in family planning, and give training to grassroots level service providers and program managers,'' said Zhao, who emphasized that it is essential to switch to a "client-oriented" approach centered on comprehensive human development theories.

This year, the State Family Planning Commission has formulated and released a White Paper on China's Population and Development in the 21st Century and Regulations on the Administration of Technical Services for Family Planning. It is in the process of formulating Chinese Population and Family Planning Law in order to regulate services strictly in accordance with the law.

(People's Daily 08/20/2001)

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