China is proposing to improve premarital health checkup regulations, a senior health official said yesterday.
The rate of premarital health checkups in China has dropped from 95 percent to less than 3 percent since the testing became voluntary in 2003, said Vice Health Minister Jiang Zuojun at a meeting on women and health care for infants in Hangzhou, capital of east China's Zhejiang Province.
The decline in testing has made it more difficult to identify infectious diseases, challenging the well-being of pregnant women and newborn babies, Jiang said.
Premarital health checks used to be compulsory to obtain a marriage permit in China. But under the new regulations on Marriage Registration adopted in October 2003 the process became voluntary. Given the majority of tests cost money 97 percent of people choose not to have them.
Some local governments in Zhejiang, Shanghai, Beijing and Shandong have made relevant check-ups free of charge.
As a result Zhejiang has seen its checkup rate rise from less than 1.6 percent in 2004 to 20 percent this year, said Ye Zhen, vice director of the provincial health department.
South China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region has launched publicity campaigns to spread information about premarital checkups and some underdeveloped areas have seen a checkup rate of 70 percent, according to the region's health department.
(Xinhua News Agency November 16, 2006)