Disabilities battle making progress – People’s Daily Online



National campaign minimizes risks through checkups, more awareness

Genetic disorders and acquired disabilities in China have witnessed a steady decline in recent years after the implementation of a State-level campaign on preventing and treating disabilities, experts said.

In December 2021, the State Council, China’s Cabinet, launched the campaign with the aim of bolstering the national disability prevention system by promoting healthcare knowledge and improving health checkups and disease screening, medical treatment and rehabilitation.

The campaign set a 2025 target to achieve progress in these areas by helping people control disability risks and minimizing hereditary diseases, illnesses and accidental injuries.

Some of the main indexes measuring disability prevention — such as the rate of premarital checkups and genetic screening of newborns — aspire to reach the same levels as high and medium income countries. For example, the campaign sets the target of raising the rate of premarital checkups from 68.5 percent in 2020 to above 70 percent by 2025. Some of these targets have already been achieved.

“The campaign has so far operated smoothly,” said Hu Xiangyang, director of the rehabilitation department of the China Disabled Persons’ Federation.

After the campaign was announced a working team in charge of its implementation was established, he said. The team is supported by 19 central departments including the Publicity Department of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and the National Development and Reform Commission.

Under the initiative, books have been published nationwide to increase knowledge about disability prevention and educational activities have also been organized, Hu said. As part of their routine work, governments at all levels have also promoted healthcare and disability prevention in recent years to help raise people’s awareness of the issue.

Hu said social services relating to premarital and pre-pregnancy healthcare have also been boosted, along with the capability of medical services offering prenatal diagnosis to “further curb the risks of birth defects and developmental disabilities”.

The nation’s rate of premarital checkups has reached 70.9 percent and the rate of prenatal screening 85.7 percent, Hu said. “The screening rate of newborns for hereditary diseases and hearing (impairment) are 98.1 percent and 97.1 percent respectively, so far,” he said.

National Health Commission statistics show that from 2020 to last year, the rate of people taking premarital health checkups rose by 6.3 percentage points and the rate of women receiving prenatal examinations increased by 7.6 percentage points.

Over 90 percent of infants have had medical checkups for inherited metabolic diseases and hearing impairment in recent years, according to the commission.

Deaths caused by severe birth defects have also been brought under better control in recent years. Fatalities of infants and children under five years of age caused by birth defects dropped by over 20 percent from 2018 to 2021. The rate of birth defects that can cause disabilities, such as neural tube defects and limb reduction, also saw a marked decrease over the period, the commission said.

“Over 100 million women have benefited from our public services such as pre-pregnancy examinations, and folic acid supplementation in cases of neural tube defects,” said Xing Ruoqi, a senior official from the commission.

More effective measures have also been taken to lower the risks of accidental injuries and promote rehabilitation.

In recent years, the nation has stepped up efforts to standardize the management of chronic diseases and improve care for people with severe mental disorders, said Hu from the disabled persons’ federation.

Supervision of occupational illnesses has also been intensified.

Hu said there had been several inspections of transportation management safety along with pollution management and drinking water safety to ensure the public’s health.

“In 2022, the number of safety accidents decreased by 24 percent year-on-year,” he said.

Good results have also been achieved in rehabilitation.

About 407,000 disabled children received rehabilitation assistance last year and over eight million adults with disabilities received social services assistance with their rehabilitation, Hu said.

However, China still faces challenges in preventing disabilities because of its aging population and the impact of industrialization and urbanization, which may bring an increased risk of disabilities.

“We will more actively engage in coordinating departments to channel their efforts and resources into the implementation of the national disability prevention campaign, to offer the public all-around and whole-process services to reduce or control the occurrence of disabilities,” he added.

(Web editor: Zhong Wenxing, Liang Jun)


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