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Convenience Key to Premarital Physicals

The proximity of health centers to marriage registration offices seemed to play a large role in the newly engaged couples who underwent premarital health exams yesterday, the first day Shanghai began to provide the service for free.


In Zhabei District, where the physicals can be taken in the marriage registration center, almost all couples who signed up to tie the knot yesterday underwent a health exam.


Couples said that the convenience of the "one-stop" service was the deciding factor when they considered whether to take the exam or not.


"If it wasn't for the consulting doctor sitting just outside the registration room, who 'caught' us and persuaded us to take the physical exam, I'd rather skip it," said a groom surnamed Li.


"I just don't want to go through the complex process," the groom said yesterday.


Li said the doctor first persuaded his fiancé, and her "why not" attitude convinced him to take the physical.


The doctor, surnamed Xu, said since they moved the physical service to the registration center after the district began to provide free service in May, the number of people taking the exam has grown significantly.


Prior to June, fewer than 10 percent of couples took the exam, but that figure rose to more than 30 percent in June, and climbed above 50 percent in July, according to Xu.


In Xuhui District, where the physical exams are done at a designated hospital two blocks from the registration center, few couple took physicals yesterday.


"We're coordinating with government departments to move the physical to the registration center," said Weng Rongjia, the doctor in charge of the service.


Premarital exams were mandatory until October 2003. After they became voluntary, few couple bothered with them. Doctors say the exams are important to prevent hereditary diseases from being spread unwittingly to children.


Weng said since August 25 when free physical became available in the district, newlyweds have to register first, and then go to the designated hospital with a pass for a free physical. "As a result, few would come here specially."


(Shanghai Daily September 2, 2005)

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