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Wednesday, February 07, 2001, updated at 07:41(GMT+8)

New Drive to Push Sex Health, Education

The State Family Planning Commission will further enhance scientific and technological research on new and safer contraceptives over the next five years.

Research on new reproductive healthcare technology will also be strengthened for both men and women, a commission official said Tuesday.

The scheme has been worked out in response to public demands for fewer but healthier births and for better reproductive health, according to Zhao Baige, former director of the Science and Technology Development Department under the State Family Planning Commission.

The commission has recently completed an investigation on the most sought after reproductive health services among people of child-bearing age.

Results show that the most urgent demand is for safe contraceptives to avoid unwanted pregnancies, the second is for provisions to ensure the birth of healthy babies and the third is for more facilities for the maintenance of physical fitness, said Zhao.

Another survey of the commission indicates that health conditions for Chinese women are improving, but that more must be done in the area of reproductive health care.

The survey, conducted among 16,000 women aged 15 to 49, revealed that 44.3 per cent of the women knew very little about menstruation before they started their periods.

Nine per cent of women aged 15-19 reported gynaecological problems. The rate climbed to 30 per cent among women aged 30-34 and to 35 per cent among women over 35.

The lack of reproductive knowledge has affected the health of the next generation -- about 200,000 babies are born each year with health defects, 1.3 per cent of all newborns.

Zhao said that in the five years from 2001-05, the country will concentrate on the development of new contraceptives such as pills for men, and will promote these products to enable people to select those most suitable for them.

The commission will develop new prenatal diagnosis technology to prevent birth defects as well as some new measures to prevent and cure sexually transmitted diseases and HIV/AIDS.

Research will also be carried out on the prevention and control of gynaecological diseases, breast cancer and prostate illnesses.

Zhang Yuqin, vice-minister of the State Family Planning Commission, said that the commission will prioritize basic reproductive services for the public to meet their demands in the new century, and that the final target is to encourage people to relinquish old customs that favour more children and more sons and to put more stress on the quality of life.

Zhang feels confident that the upcoming First China Reproductive Health/Family Planning New Technology & Products Exposition will help ensure the success of the plan.

The event, to be held at the Beijing Exhibition Hall on World Population Day in July, is the first such activity organized by the State Family Planning Commission.

Many new reproductive products from home and abroad will be on show and symposiums will be organized to disseminate knowledge and exchange experiences during the four-day fair.

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The State Family Planning Commission will further enhance scientific and technological research on new and safer contraceptives over the next five years.

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