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Action plan focuses on disability prevention

By Cheng Si | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2022-01-10 09:15

A nurse takes care of a newborn baby at Gansu Provincial Maternity and Childcare Hospital in Lanzhou. [Photo/Xinhua]

Premarital healthcare to help reduce physical problems among newborns

China will strengthen disability prevention efforts by promoting premarital healthcare and healthy lifestyles, while also improving disabled people's development prospects.

The State Council, China's Cabinet, recently released an action plan focusing on disability prevention, which aims to better control causes of disability, such as genetic inheritance or disease, by 2025. It also aims to improve rehabilitation services for the disabled.

According to the action plan, China will promote premarital and pre-conception healthcare to reduce physical problems among newborns. For example, the National Health Commission will streamline checkup procedures and make healthy pregnancy and birth information more accessible to couples.

The commission will also improve basic medical services for pregnant women and enhance prenatal screening to help detect some severe birth defects such as chromosomal disorders and malformation.

The action plan also emphasized that older women who are pregnant should be given priority for prenatal checkups, calling for the setting up of a specialized management system for such women and the improvement of grassroots healthcare services from village- and county-level maternal and children's healthcare centers.

Zhu Jun, director of the national monitoring center for birth defects at West China Women's and Children's Hospital, said preventing birth defects in the countryside, where economic and medical conditions are comparatively weaker, is challenging but necessary work. Most newborns with birth defects are born in rural areas.

He said the recruitment of more talent is important to ensure that health checkups-from the premarital period to the postnatal one-are available to childbearing couples.

He added that women of childbearing age in rural areas should improve their awareness of how to deliver a healthy baby, and receive regular health examinations at hospitals. He said it is better to give newborns with birth diseases treatment as early as possible to prevent the illness from deteriorating into disability.

The action plan highlighted the promotion of good lifestyles-including a balanced diet with less sugar and salt-to help control adult disabilities caused by chronic diseases such as high blood pressure and diabetes.

Wang Linhong, an expert in chronic disease control at the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said chronic diseases are responsible for the disabilities of around 56 percent of disabled adults, with cardiovascular disease and diabetes the main culprits.

She said that in addition to eating more fruits and vegetables, it's also necessary to avoid being exposed to secondhand smoke in order to prevent chronic disease.

Wang said that regulating the management of patients with chronic diseases is key to lowering disability risks, while also offering them standard and high-quality medical services.

The action plan said nationwide exercise campaigns will be beneficial, along with the enhancement of psychological health services, while work to prevent mental diseases is equally important for building up a healthy society. Vaccination against crippling diseases is also necessary, it said.

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