China has dispatched its massive army of family planning officials into the countryside for the first comprehensive survey of rural migration in a bid to curb the spread of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) from urban to rural areas.
About 4.498 million farmers had made cross-provincial migration during the first 15 days in May, according to statistics gathered by 11:00 p.m. on May 17 and released Wednesday by the State Commission for Population and Family Planning (SCPFP).
Of the total, 2.35 million people left Beijing, Tianjin, Hebei, Shanxi, Inner Mongolia and Guangdong which are among the worst-affected SARS areas, while 3.318 million people had flowed into the provinces of Anhui, Henan, Hunan, Jiangsu, Hubei, Jiangxi, Hebei and Guangxi.
Pan Guiyu, a senior official with the national SARS prevention and treatment team, said the survey provided valuable statistical support for government departments to make timely adjustments to the battle plan against the virus.
Started on May 1, the survey has quickly expanded from one county in Hunan to some 2,606 counties in 30 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities, accounting for 97 percent of the total counties in China.
In the past 20 days, nearly 85 million grassroots family planning workers have been mobilized to go to every rural household in China to identify migrants who have recently returned, especially those from other provinces.
Established over the past 30 years, the force, consisting of two million official family planning workers and 83 million members of the Family Planning Association, was once highly acclaimed for its efforts in curbing the population by an estimated 300 million.
While visiting rural households, they not only provide routine reproductive services, but also spread the SARS information and record data on returning migrants.
Such efforts have made the statistics as accurate as the nearest round number. However in the past, similar figures about migration of rural laborers were mainly drawn from sample research.
All the data will be uploaded on to a special website every three days. Developed by experts of the SCPFP, the website is based on an existing network named Women Information System designed to collect information on childbearing women.
(Xinhua News Agency May 22, 2003)