China Countdown Case Study

China Countdown Case Study (2014-2015)


China’s success in maternal and newborn health (MNH) has been unprecedented. Twenty years ago, parts of rural China experienced levels of maternal and neonatal mortality that are similar to those seen in sub-Saharan Africa. The reasons for this success are multiple, but China’s strategic investments in health systems strengthening has been critical. Today, nearly all women give birth in hospital.

Project Aims:

To document and understand trends and socio-economic and geographic inequalities in maternal and newborn mortality and fertility in China over the last twenty years.
Special attention was given to poor, remoted rural areas in Western China where progress has been more recent and the socio-economic context may have more relevance for sub-Saharan Africa. The focus was put on system inputs and outputs that have enabled progress towards universal access to basic and comprehensive obstetric care in health facilities, and the financing mechanisms that facilitated removal of financial barriers at the point of care.

The main institutions involved were the Schools of Public Health at Peking University and Sichuan University, and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (Professor Carine Ronsmans and Timothy Powell-Jackson, a health economist). At Peking University, the project was led by Qingyue Meng, Professor in Health Policy and Economics and Director of the School of Public Health (SPH), with co-investigators Yan Wang, Professor in Maternal and Child Health and Xing Lin Feng, Associate Professor in Health Policy. At Sichuan University the project was led by Min Yang, Professor in Health Systems at the School of Public Health. We also involved the Director of the Department of Maternal and Child Health at the Ministry of Health; and we have approached Dr. Shi Kun Zhang at the Department of Maternal and Child Health of the National Health and Family Planning Commission of the People’s Republic of China for an interest in this case study.


Progress and challenges in maternal health in western China: a Countdown to 2015 national case study Yanqiu Gao et al, The Lancet, May 2017

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