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
Report: China See Dramatic Drop in Infant Deaths