CMF’s first program was to help establish the Shanghai Children’s Medical Centre - the first state-of-the-art children’s hospital in China. Since then, CMF has continued to develop and implement programs in China to improve healthcare available to children. Our current focus is on improving healthcare for newborn babies in rural China.
Why focus on improving healthcare for newborn babies in rural China?
A disproportionately high percentage of newborn babies are dying in China and around the world.
The UN’s Millennium Development Goal #4 is Reduce Child Mortality – over 40% of deaths of children under 5 years old occur within the first 28 days of life. Around the world, this amounts to 4 million newborn babies dying every year before they reach the first month of their life, mainly from preventable causes. In China, in 2007, a staggering 229,200 newborn babies died within the first 28 days of their lives.1
Many of these deaths in China can be prevented through improving training and infrastructure of newborn healthcare in rural, underserved areas.
The main causes of neonatal mortality (death in the first four weeks of life) are asphyxia (due to lack of oxygen before delivery), low birth weight and infection. Many of these deaths can easily be prevented.1
Children born in rural China are three to six times more likely to die before they turn 5 than those in the cities… the disparity between child health in the booming cities compared with the poor countryside remain stark.3
Poor families are also faced with sometimes insurmountable costs to access healthcare, sometimes having to choose the death of their child simply because they cannot afford the hospital care.
In 2010, rural residents had an annual average per capita disposable income of 5,900 yuan ($898). That's less than a third of the average per capita disposable income of urban residents, which stood at 19,100 yuan ($2,900).4
For every newborn who dies from asphyxia, which occurs when the newborn receives an inadequate supply of oxygen immediately before, during, or just after delivery, another suffers lifelong impairments such as epilepsy, cerebral palsy, or developmental delay. The costs associated with such disabilities strain health systems, while caring for disabled or sick children burdens families; furthermore, the loss of children’s potential future earnings exacerbates the cycle of deprivation for families and societies.2
1. UNICEF, 2009
2. The Lancet, Vol 375, March 27, 2010 “Causes of deaths in children younger than 5 years in China in 2008”
3. Reuters, March 25, 2010 “Child mortality highlights China’s urban-rural divide
4. BBC News, June 19, 2011, “Inequality in China: Rural poverty persists as urban wealth balloons”
CMF is implementing our Comprehensive Neonatal Health Project to combat the needless deaths of newborn babies in China. Click here to find out more.