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Maternal, infant death rates drop sharply in China: ministry

(Xinhua)

09:09, September 22, 2011

BEIJING, Sept. 21 (Xinhua) -- Maternal and infant death rates in China have dropped sharply over the past decade, the Ministry of Health (MOH) said Wednesday.

The maternal mortality rate stood at 30 out of 100,000 in 2010, down 43.4 percent from 2000's mortality rate, said Qin Huaijin, a senior official from the MOH.

The infant mortality rate was 13.1 per 1,000 in 2010, dropping 59.3 percent from 2000, while the mortality rate for children under five fell 58.7 percent to 16.4 per 1,000 in 2010, according to a report released by the MOH on Wednesday.

However, due to China's massive population, the reduced mortality rates still indicate that 209,000 infants and 261,000 children under five died last year, the report said.

"Although we met the UN Millennium Development Goal of reducing mortality rates for infants and children under five ahead of 2015, further efforts are still needed to deal with the issue," Qin said.

An increasing rate of birth defects in recent years is also a concern.

"China is a country with a high birth defect rate. The rate's rise in recent years was caused by various factors, including environmental changes and a reluctance to undergo premarital health check-ups," Qin said.

Qin stated that insufficient numbers of hospitals and medical workers specializing in child care have also created health issues for the country's children.

"There were only 72 children's hospitals in the country as of the end of last year, and we still need about 200,000 pediatricians," he said.

The Ministry of Health and other government agencies are working to improve access to healthcare resources for children, Qin said.

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