Infant Mortality in China

Infant mortality in the Chinese health system has been an area of concern for many years.  The current trend shows that a lot of work has been done over the past twenty years, but there is still a long way to go.  An article published by Reuters in March of 2010 discusses a drop in infant mortality by 71%, 64.6 infant deaths per 1,000 livebirths to 18.5, from 1990 to 2008.  In a Wall Street Journal article from September 2011 that produces similar data, they reported a 62% drop from 1996 to 2008, they state the reason is because more mothers are choosing to have their babies born in a hospital setting, rather than at home.  The Wall Street Journal article attributes this to country wide effort in 2000 by China’s Ministry of Health to encourage hospital births and to do this they created a subsidy that allowed for rural residents to afford the trip to hospitals.
Reuters points out that the reason the mortality rate hasn’t dropped further is because of the wide gap in health care between the rich and poor.  The Chinese government’s hope to shorten this gap can be seen with their 2009 reform that put $123 billion into
providing affordable health care to its 1.3 billion person population.

An anthropologist that is working on this issue is Igor Rudan from the Croatian Center for Global Health in Split, Croatia.  He published a paper in March 2010 that looked
at information from obtained from the Chinese Ministry of Health and various other Chinese databases to determine the causes of death in Chinese children younger than 5.  His research showed that there were significant drops in the mortality rates of neonates, postneonatal infants, and children from 1990 to 2008.  Also detailed was the leading causes of death, which include pneumonia, birth asphyxia, and preterm birth complications.


Causes of deaths in children younger than 5 years in China in 2008

Child mortality highlights China’s urban-rural divide idUSTRE62P01G20100326

Report: China See Dramatic Drop in Infant Deaths

2 thoughts on “Infant Mortality in China

  1. I think that in addressing this global health problem that this anthropologist mainly used an ethnomedical approach. As was explained, the anthropologist’s working theory is that the move from a folk sector to a more professional sector in health seeking behaviors is what is accountable for the decrease in infant mortality rates in China. I find it interesting that the Chinese government was able to set aside billions in order to narrow the income gap for healthcare and that we are struggling with the idea in the USA. I think that applying anthropology contributed to a better understanding of this global health problem because otherwise there leaves room for culturally guided misunderstandings. For instance, in the United States it is more common than not to have children in the hospital setting, so it may seem strange to an American that members of other cultures would opt for home births over hospital births. Therefore, someone from our culture may perceive the reason for the increase in successful birth rates to be that there is less pressure now than in the past for chinese families to have a son instead of a daughter, especially when considering the classical one child rule in China. This is only one example, but the anthropologist’s research in this instance provided clear explanations of the decline in the infant mortality rates so that others may be able to better understand certain aspects of Chinese culture.

  2. I think after looking at your post that Igor Rudan may have used an applied approach to identify information about this global health issue. I think this because he looked at clinical studies and used information from the government. Also think Igor Rudan may have also taken an ethno medical approach to explain this health care problem when he looked at that the leading causes in China for infant mortality.
    I think that applying anthropology contributed to a better understanding of this global health problem by opening my eyes to cultural reasons and not just biomedical reasons for a high rate of infant mortality in China. I sometimes forget not all countries are like the United State and have a different healthcare system than us. I did not taken into consideration how mothers do not all way have their babies in a hospital setting but now more mothers are doing so in China and this is causing a lower rate of deaths. Also I have a better understanding of this issue because of applying anthropology with the fact that another leading cause of deaths has to deal with a person’s income in China. You said how the rate hasn’t dropped that much do to the fact there is still a huge gap between rich and poor and how each receives healthcare. Sometimes I forget that can happen because our system has a large middle class so that was another cultural change for me to think about.

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