The health condition of children in China has been improving in recent years due to more affordable services at the grassroots level, a health official said on Tuesday.
The country's infant mortality rate has fallen to 5.4 per 1,000 and the mortality rate among children under 5 years old is 7.5 per 1,000, said Song Li, director of the department of maternal and child health at the National Health Commission.
She added that the rate of stunting among children under 6 years old has dropped to below 7 percent, and the rate of low weight among the age group is now lower than 5 percent.
"The key barometers for evaluating children's health in China are higher than the average in upper-middle-income countries across the globe," she said during a briefing held by the State Council Information Office.
On Monday, China released a plan for public services during the 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-25) period. The plan called for intensified efforts to ensure sufficient provision of public services targeting children and people with medical needs.
Song said the commission will strive to build a complete network for pediatric healthcare based on a range of primary healthcare institutions.
She added that more efforts will be devoted to addressing prominent child health issues, including birth defects, obesity, anemia, poor vision, curvature of the spine, autism and hearing impairment.
"Early screening, diagnosis and intervention will be further promoted," Song said.
She said affordable and government-subsidized nursery care services will be expanded in the next few years to meet the public's increasing demands.
"The goal is to raise the number of nursery care slots per 1,000 people to 4.5," she said.
Yang Wenzhuang, head of the commission's population surveillance and family department, said in an earlier interview that there are about 42 million toddlers under 3 years old across China, and one-third of them are in urgent need of nursery care services.
However, the country's nursery enrollment rate for the age group stands at only about 5.5 percent, pointing to a great gap between supply and demand, he said.