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Child Health and Nutrition: Getting better and facing new challenges in China

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Author(s): Shougang Wei | Lirong Ju | Man Li | Wei Wang

Journal: Australasian Medical Journal
ISSN 1836-1935

Volume: 4;
Issue: 3;
Start page: 123;
Date: 2011;
Original page

Keywords: Child Health | nutrition | China | health inequality | micronutrient deficiency | childhood obesity | migrant workers

ABSTRACT
BackgroundChild healthcare practices in China over the last 60 yearshave extensively improved children’s health and growth, yetnew challenges lie ahead. This review aims to summarisethe successful experiences and the newly identifiedproblems in child healthcare in China.MethodInformation, available to the public, was obtained fromChinese databases and Chinese Government websites,chiefly the Chinese National Knowledge Infrastructuredatabase, the Chinese Biomedical Literature database, theMinistry of Health website and the National WorkingCommittee on Children and Women website.ResultsDuring its poverty-stricken 1950s–1970s, China protectedchildren’s health mainly through prevention and control ofcommon infectious diseases and severe malnutrition withina comprehensive healthcare system. After the subsequent30 years of rapid socio-economic development, China hasachieved great success in reducing childhood mortality ratesand promoting child growth, meeting the MillenniumDevelopment Goal 4 targets and the WHO child growthstandards. Meanwhile, new challenges for children’shealthcare emerged, including: large disparities in thehealth, growth and nutritional status of children, and in theaccessibility and quality of child healthcare, between urbanand rural areas and across different regions of China; thenutritional and healthcare concerns of the fast-expandingpopulation of migrant children and rural left-behindchildren; the burgeoning epidemic of childhood obesity inurban and economically developed areas; micronutrientdeficiencies such as calcium, iron, zinc and vitamin A; andincreasing prevalence of mental and behavioural disorders.ConclusionUnder poor economic conditions, healthcare plays a keyrole in protecting children against diseases. With thedevelopment of social economy, new challenges present tohealthcare services, specifically, to comprehensivelypromote and optimise childrens’ health and nutrition.
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