More money must be invested in China's healthcare system to
ensure children receive effective medical treatment, an official
from the Ministry of Health said yesterday.
Shortage of funds is the main reason for the lack of medical
treatment for rural children, said Zhang Xun, vice-director of the
Department of Maternal and Child Healthcare and Community Health
under the ministry.
In 2003, half of rural infants, aged five and under, who died from
diseases, did not receive hospital treatment before they died,
according to a report submitted earlier this week to a conference
focusing on the situation of Women and Children in China.
More than a fifth of the dead infants received no medical treatment
at all before their deaths and more than 28 percent received only
cursory diagnosis and treatment at outpatients departments, but
were not admitted to hospital.
The survey was carried out in 116 counties covering a population of
12 million people.
Zhang was unable to provide more up-to-date figures on infant
mortality, but said a report covering 2004 is expected to be
published in the coming weeks.
The main causes of infant deaths are premature birth, low birth
weight, suffocation during birth, and pneumonia, Zhang said.
A major reason for death during childbirth in rural areas is that
families cannot afford to pay for babies to be delivered in
hospital, she added.
Poverty also means families cannot afford treatment if their
children become ill.
On the Chinese mainland, at least 70 percent of rural residents,
including women and children, currently have no medical
Zhang called on the central government to provide free medical care
allowing rural mothers to give birth in hospital.
Infectious diseases, such as HIV/AIDS, are also threatening the
health of children, Jiang Zuojun, vice-minister of health, told the
Mother-to-infant transmission has become a major channel for the
spread of HIV, Jiang said.
To curb mother-to-infant transmission, 170,000 pregnant women
across five provinces and regions have received HIV testing in a
pilot program, said Jiang.
The five regions are Henan, Yunnan and Guangdong provinces, the
Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region and the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Health yesterday denied reports of a
nationwide outbreak of anthrax, saying the disease has been under
regular monitoring since Tuesday.
"Starting monitoring in some regions does not mean anthrax is
breaking out in these regions. We are monitoring other infectious
diseases as well," a media coordinator of the ministry's
information office said.
(China Daily August 18, 2005)