Chinese average life expectancy increased by over 40 years over past decades

China Plus Published: 2019-07-06 16:56:16
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As the Chinese people look ahead to the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China on October 1st, several of the country's health experts have been reflecting on the improvements in public health that have taken place over the past 7 decades.

China has nearly 1 million public medical institutions and 9.5 million medical workers by the end of 2018. [Photo: VCG]

China has nearly 1 million public medical institutions and 9.5 million medical workers by the end of 2018. [Photo: VCG]

Official data shows that China has made great progress in providing national medical services over the past 70 years.

Qin Geng is director of the department for women and children's health at the National Health Commission. He spoke about the increase in life expectancy, and the falling infant mortality rate.

"Before the establishment of the People's Republic of China, rural and remote areas were short of doctors and medicine. The mortality rate for babies was as high as 20 percent, compared with 0.6 percent in 2018. The average life expectancy was 35 before 1949, but it increased to 77 years last year, which is higher than the average of some mid-to high-income countries. The maternal mortality rate has dropped to 18 per 100-thousand live births last year."

Qin also talked about China's achievement in preventing and controlling infectious diseases over the past decades.

"We attach great importance to children's health. We think disease prevention is more important than treatment. We provide health education, telling children how to stay healthy. A number of diseases can also be prevented by vaccines. We provide every child with 14 vaccines against 15 diseases. For children under 5, the HBV carrier rate is within 1 percent. That's a great achievement."

Official data shows China had nearly 1 million public medical institutions at the end of last year, compared with about 3,600 in 1949. And the number of medical workers reached 9.5 million by 2018.

Professor Fu Hua is with Fudan University.

"One of our experiences from the reform and improvement of the medical care system is to strengthen community healthcare services. Our medical insurance system covers more than 95 percent of the population. It's also among the measures proposed by the World Health Organization for public health. China has done a great job in this field."

China has established a national immunization monitoring system, which covers the whole country.

The vaccination rate has been maintained at over 90 percent in recent years.

Professor Zhou Zijun is with the School of Public Health at Peking University.

"We have a planned immunization system, which can help prevent children from catching infectious diseases. In the past, these diseases could lead to a high mortality rate. Thanks to vaccines, both the morbidity rate and the mortality rate have decreased."

However, experts are calling on the public to pay more attention to the problem of chronic diseases, like obesity and cardiovascular disease, which are now considered the greatest threat to public health. Doctors say that the best way to avoid these conditions is to eat well, and to exercise.

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