China shares “success factors” for MDGs 4 and 5


Working groups discussed key issues contributing to China’s progress on MDGs 4 and 5, including health sector investments, non-health sector initiatives, leadership and governance
Photo credit: Liu Shujun/WHO China

How has China made such rapid progress in meeting its national Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) for maternal and child mortality; what challenges remain; and how can China’s policy story be documented and shared, both inside China and globally? These were the questions considered by a multi-stakeholder group of leading maternal and child health experts at a recent consultation workshop in Beijing supported by PMNCH, the WHO’s China office and the National Health and Family Planning Commission of China(NHPFC).

China has seen major improvements in maternal and child health in the past 20 years due to intensive policy and planning efforts both inside and outside the formal health sector, said Song Wenzhen, Deputy Director of the National Working Committee on Children and Women (NWCCW), addressing the meeting. Major efforts in areas such as health data collection and surveillance, health insurance and health system improvements, and coordinated efforts in areas such as education and women’s education have allowed China to achieve its MDG 4 goal on child mortality, and to progress on track towards its maternal mortality goal.

Since 1991, China has reduced under-five child mortality from 61 per 1000 live births to 12 per 1000 live births in 2013. Maternal mortality has fallen from 80 deaths per 100,000 live births to 23 deaths per 100,000 live births during the same period. Even so, major regional inequities remain in regard to coverage and quality of services, with rural migrant workers at particular risk.

“This consultation seminar today comes at a very good time. It is about studying, verifying, improving, optimizing, as well as sharing. It will also facilitate international exchange,” said Dr Qin Geng, Deputy Director of the Department of Maternal and Child Health Services of the National Health and Family Planning Commission in his opening comments.

The 23 April meeting was organized by Peking University together with the National Health and Family Planning Commission and WHO China. It was the first such meeting in China to bring together stakeholders from a wide variety of backgrounds to discuss and agree on how China’s progress should be understood and documented in order to support ongoing national and global efforts on maternal, newborn and child health.

To catalyse this process, Professor Guo Yan of Peking University presented a draft case study on China’s progress, and facilitated discussion among participants in relation to three key areas that can explain this progress: health sector investments and initiatives; investments and initiatives outside the health sector; leadership and governance, including the relationship with civil society and the private sector. Based on comments received at the workshop, the case will now be revised and presented to senior officials in China for final comment.

Participants from a wide variety of institutions took part in the 23 April meeting, including NWCCW, NHFPC, the National Maternal and Child Health Surveillance Office, the National Centre for Health Statistic and Information, the Capital Institute for Pediatrics, the National Health Development Research Centre, the Chinese Maternal and Child Health Association, the Chinese Academy of Medical Science, Fudan University, Peking University, WHO, UNFPA, UNAIDS, and Save the Children. Moderation of the meeting was conducted by Dr Chunmei Wen of WHO China. Dr Shyama Kuruvilla of the PMNCH secretariat in Geneva provided an overview of the Success Factors study and emerging findings.

China’s case study on MDG4 and 5a will join nine other country case studies to be highlighted this June at the PMNCH Partners’ Forum in South Africa . The Success Factors project seeks to contribute to the MDG review process and the current discussion on the post-2015 development goals by highlighting how and why countries are “on track” to meeting their MDG goals.

Key findings are based on statistical analysis and econometric modelling of data from 144 low and middle-income countries over a period of 20 years. Quantitative findings are explored through in-depth policy analysis and multi-stakeholder reviews in 10 countries ‘on the fast track’ to achieving MDGs 4 and 5a. In addition to China, study countries include Nepal, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Lao PDR, Vietnam, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Egypt, and Peru.

The Success Factors study is coordinated by PMNCH in conjunction with the WHO, World Bank, BRAC Institute for Global Health, and the Alliance for Health Policy and Systems Research. International study partners include Global Health Insights, Johns Hopkins University, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Results for Development, USAID and the University of St Gallen in Switzerland.