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Political Advisor Expects Government to Reduce Rural Maternity Mortality
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A Chinese political advisor on Monday called on the government to increase funding health care for rural women in an effort to reduce maternity mortality rate.

"The government should set up special funds to provide free hospital delivery services to all women in poverty-stricken areas,”said Zhao Shaohua, a member of the 10th National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC).

China's maternal mortality rate has declined steadily over the past decade -- from 61.9 per 100,000 in 1995 to 48.3 per 100,000 in 2004, according to the Ministry of Health.

In terms of comparison between city and countryside, the maternal mortality rate for rural Chinese women in 2003 was 65.4 deaths for every 100,000 mothers, compared with 27.6 per 100,000 for urban women.

In this sense, Zhao said, the maternity death rate among rural women is two times that of the urban women due to poverty and insufficient health resources in rural areas.

To improve health care in the countryside, China launched a new cooperative medical care program in 2003. Participants can have part of their expenses refunded in case they are hospitalized.

Zhao said the government should include gynecological check into the program and prevent delivery risks among rural women so as to lower maternity and infant mortality at an early stage.

From 2002 to 2005, the Chinese government invested 400 million yuan (US$49 million) in a project intending to lower the mortality rate of women in pregnancy and childbirth and eliminate tetanus among the newborn.

More than 1,200 experts were dispatched to county-level medical centers and hospitals to train doctors and medical staff.

The project has allowed 730,000 needy women to give birth and receive medical treatment in hospitals in rural areas.

(Xinhua News Agency March 12, 2007)

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