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Family planning staff asked to shift focus from enforcement to support

Author:gzstcj  From:CHINA DAILY Time:2018-06-21 Browse:  Size: Big Middle Small

With the change in China's family planning policy, employees at family planning offices nationwide will be more actively engaged in providing maternal health services, a top health official said on Thursday.

"Family planning staff members across China should make adjustments to their roles to match the changes in China's family planning policy and people's increasing demand for a better life," said Ma Xiaowei, minister of the National Health Commission. "They are expected to be integrated into the overall health service system, and provide more tailored health services to women of childbearing age."

Couples' decisions to have a child have been increasingly affected by factors such as their financial condition and the availability of social resources such as nursery facilities, he said, suggesting that family planning staff can help solve such difficulties so couples' wishes can be met.

With the adoption of the universal second child policy at the beginning of 2016, which encourages couples to have two children, family planning staff members across China are undergoing reforms and integrating with health departments, according to the commission.

In some areas, such as Guiyang, Guizhou province, staff members have changed their roles from one focused on enforcing old family planning policies - which limited most couples in urban areas to one child - to one that increasingly stresses the provision of reproductive services.

For more than three decades in Guiyang, the primary task of family planning workers in villages and townships was to prevent unauthorized births - which meant the promotion of contraception - said Qin Desheng, a family planning official in the city's Wudang district.

With the relaxation of the policy in recent years, grassroots family planning staff members have been integrated with health staff to provide healthcare services to increasing numbers of pregnant women, especially those with higher risks, he said.

Wang Pei'an, vice-president of the China Family Planning Association, an NGO that promotes reproductive health, said the change in the family planning policy means that a key task of the association will be to provide services to childless couples who have lost their only child - a vulnerable group under the previous policy.

"Financial and psychological support services will cover all such families by the end of 2020," he said.

With the implementation of the universal second-child policy, about 90 million women became eligible for a second child. Half the women are more than 40 years old, which means higher pregnancy risks, according to the National Health Commission.

Yuan Xin, a professor of population studies at Nankai University, said that under the current policy it is foreseeable that family planning staff members in China will shift from their past supervisory role and start playing a greater role in reproductive services.

wangxiaodong@chinadaily.com.cn

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