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China Shifts Reproductive Health Care Spending as Part of Stimulus Plan

China has earmarked another 1 billion yuan (US$147 million) to be spent in the fourth quarter, which ends in about six weeks, to improve rural reproductive health care programs.

The money represents previously planned spending that is being brought forward to the fourth quarter, as part of government efforts to boost the economy amid global economic and financial turmoil.

The funds will be used to upgrade medical equipment in reproductive health care centers and improve family planning services, pre- and post-natal care and disease prevention, Wang Pei'an, deputy director of the National Population and Family Planning Commission (NPFPC), said on Thursday.

The central government has already allocated 400 million yuan this year for reproductive health care. "The additional 1 billion yuan was part of the recent 100 billion yuan economic stimulus package that the central government announced for the fourth quarter," Wang said.

The State Council, or cabinet, announced the 100 billion yuan package on November 9.

Under a five-year plan issued by the National Development and Reform Commission in 2005, China was scheduled to invest 4.9 billion yuan in rural reproductive health care from 2006 to 2010, of which 3.76 billion yuan would be from the central government.

Wang said the 1 billion yuan announced on Thursday was within the total budget of 3.76 billion yuan but was brought forward.

He said the fund had already been earmarked for specific projects and his commission would strictly follow the use of funds to prevent abuse.

According to NPFPC statistics, China has more than 1 million grassroots organizations providing family planning services.

(Xinhua News Agency November 21, 2008)

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