I chose to look at infant mortality in China. Though the infant mortality rate for China is improving, I found it interesting (and sad) that China, along with several other developing countries are struggling with infant mortality rates and quality of health care.
Until fairly recently, infant mortality in China was extremely high. Certain studies have shown that compared to babies born in urban delivery rooms, “babies born in rural hospitals are four times more likely to die”. Another factor that has greatly contributed to China’s high infant mortality is sub par health care in rural hospitals. In the past few decades, infant mortality in China has greatly decreased. Most articles seem to agree that the reason for this decrease in infant mortality is mainly because of the effort to promote hospital births by China’s government and Ministry of Health and the increase in funding for better health care and systems. The combination of improvements in health care, governmental funding and promotion of hospital births show promise for an even greater decrease in China’s infant mortality rate in future years. (Burkitt, 2011)
According to anthropologist, Nancy Riley, the infant mortality rate was as high as 139 deaths per 1,000 births in 1954. That rate dropped to around 40 deaths per 1,000 births in the late 1990’s. Other factors also contributing to China’s decrease in infant mortality include improvements in water quality and social and economic changes (Riley, 2004). Riley’s work in this area also include other trends and challenges in China’s population such as political changes, fertility, the expansion of health care, and environmental challenges. Her assessment of all these different factors and their effect on China’s population is really interesting to look at (if you have the time to skim through it).
I think seeing what China’s government was able to do in terms of bettering health care, especially in urban areas of China, shows promise for developing countries still working on building and improving their own health care systems.
Burkitt, Laurie. 2011. “Report: China Sees Dramatic Drop in Infant Deaths.” China Real Time Report, September 11. Accessed August 9, 2013. http://blogs.wsj.com/chinarealtime/2011/09/19/report-china-sees-dramatic-drop-in-infant-deaths/
Riley, Nancy E. 2004. “China’s Population: New Trends and Challenges.” Population Bulletin 59(2). Accessed August 9, 2013. http://www.case.edu/affil/tibet/tibetanSociety/documents/Riley2004.pdf