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Free Premarital Checks Possible in Guangdong

Couples in Guangzhou are expected to have free premarital medical check service.

A joint meeting last week said the Guangzhou Women's Association and the Guangzhou Health Bureau were conducting feasibility studies for the free checks.

The studies follow members of the Ninth Guangdong Provincial Committee of the CPPCC calling for free health checks for newly weds last week. The premarital health check rate had dropped to 4.88 percent in 2004 since the compulsive premarital medical checks were abandoned from Oct. 1, 2003.

The citizens' ignorance of the need for premarital health checks led to a rise in birth defects, said Zhang Li, vice president of the municipal health bureau.

Around 1,000 babies are born with physical defects each year in Guangzhou with 200 suffering from Mediterranean anemia. These could have been avoided with premarital medical checks.

A Mediterranean anemia patients could expect medical expenses of about 560,000 yuan for blood transfusions if they live up to 18 years.

According to the national plan, Guangzhou's defect rates for newborn babies should be gradually reduced from 100 per 10,000 this year to 90 per 10,000 in 2010.

To achieve this, premarital health checks were a prerequisite.

The premarital health check fees are around 98 yuan (US$11) for a male and 116 yuan (US$14) for a female in Guangzhou

A survey will be conducted of several hospitals to compare the occurrence rates of genetic and contagious diseases before and after the compulsive premarital medical check-up was abolished. The results will be submitted to provincial health authorities for evaluation.

(Shenzhen Daily January 31, 2005)

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