Report: China becoming better place to be a mom
Updated: 2014-05-12 07:20
By He Dan (China Daily)
Govt investment in healthcare credited for rise
The well-being of mothers in China has improved dramatically thanks to the government's efforts to enhance family healthcare, an international report showed.
China ranked 61st among 178 countries and regions as the best place to be a mother, moving up seven spots from last year, according to an international index based on indicators of maternal health and child mortality, and the mothers' education, income and political participation.
The report on State of the World's Mothers 2014 - released ahead of Mother's Day, which falls on Sunday - named Finland as the best place for mother-and-child healthcare, and Somalia as the worst. Save the Children, a leading independent charity that focuses on mothers' and children's rights, has released the annual report since 2000.
China has managed to reduce the maternal and child mortality rate by more than two-thirds since 1990, the report said.
"China has consistently risen in the index, with dramatic cuts in maternal and child mortality," said Pia MacRae, country director for Save the Children in China, who attributed the progress to political willingness to invest in healthcare for children and mothers.
China ranked ahead of other large, emerging economies such as Brazil, South Africa and India, while falling behind such Asian countries as Singapore - which ranked 15th in the index, the Republic of Korea - 30th - and Japan - 32nd.
The charity suggested that one reason for this is China's regional disparity. For instance, children in rural and remote areas have much higher under-5 mortality and anemia rates compared with their urban counterparts.
Xu Min, head of the health bureau of Saga county in Tibet autonomous region's Xigaze prefecture, said in the past, many herdsmen had to travel 100 to 300 km by motorbike to get to a hospital, so most women were reluctant to go there to give birth or for antenatal care.
In recent years, medical teams have been sent to villages to promote family care. In addition, the government has waived all medical expenses and will provide financial support to pregnant women if they choose to give birth in a hospital, he said.
"Now, about 80 percent of local women give birth at hospitals, so the maternal and child mortality rates have dropped sharply," he said.
China also needs to make efforts to address challenges that face mothers and children in the aftermath of natural disasters, said MacRae, adding that China is one of the most disaster-prone countries in the world and that young children are particularly vulnerable to waterborne illnesses if clean drinking sources are interrupted.
One thing the Chinese government can do better is to promote breastfeeding of infants, she said.
Xinhua contributed tothis story.
A man takes a photo of his wife's belly in Shenyang, Liaoning province, on Saturday. A hospital organized a painting event for 100 mothers-to-be to mark Mother's Day. Li Hao / for China Daily
(China Daily 05/12/2014 page7)