Education And Debate

Health in China: Maternal and child health in China

BMJ 1997; 314 doi: (Published 28 June 1997) Cite this as: BMJ 1997;314:1898
  1. Therese Hesketha, research fellow,
  2. Xing Zhu Wei, programme manager, East Asiab
  1. a Centre for International Child Health, London WC1 N1EH
  2. b Health Unlimited, London SE1 9NT
  1. Correspondence to: Dr Hesketh


    China has made great progress in improving the health of women and children over the past two generations. The success has been attributed to improved living standards, public health measures, and good access to health services. Although overall infant and maternal mortality rates are relatively low there are large differences in patterns of mortality between urban and rural areas. The Chinese have developed a hierarchical network of maternal and child health services, with each level taking a supervisory and teaching role for the level below it. Maternal and child health in China came to international attention in 1995 with the promulgation of the maternal and child health law. In China this was seen as a means of prioritising resources and improving the quality of services, but in the West it was widely described as a law on eugenics.

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