The Lancet has released a new Lancet Commission report tracking 70 years of women’s reproductive, maternal, newborn, child, and adolescent health (RMNCAH) in China. Launched on May 29 at a global event co-hosted by Peking University, the report describes the remarkable progress achieved by China in the past decades in reducing maternal and child mortality, and outlines emerging challenges the country is facing.
The Commission also proposes recommendations that are essential to improve access, equity, and quality of RMNCAH services; build a healthy and friendly environment for every woman, child and adolescent domestically; and improve global governance in RMNCAH as countries worldwide progress towards the SDGs.
The launch event — which was livestreamed via four Chinese medical professional platforms — attracted over 300,000 people from around the world to hear a prestigious line-up of Chinese and international speakers discuss women’s and children’s health in China.
The Commission was covered widely by mainsteam media and very well received. The launch was especially timely, coming just three days before the 3-child policy was formally announced in China. As Dr Helena Hui Wang, Asia Executive Editor of The Lancet, explained:
This Commission … is highly relevant with the future development of China, particularly regarding population and family planning policy. It has laid out constructive recommendations based on the best available scientific evidence to improve women and children’s health in contemporary China. It also demonstrates impressive international collaborations even during the Covid pandemic and shows strong global solidarity in the scientific community.
A global collaboration with China — with implications for the rest of the world
The Lancet has been collaborating with Chinese medical institutes for over a decade. This event and Commission is the latest and largest collaboration to date, receiving support from prominent organizations in China, including Peking University Third Hospital, the Chinese Academy of Engineering, the National Clinical Research Center for Obstetrical and Gynecological Diseases, and the National Office for Maternal and Child Health Surveillance of China, with further support from the China Medical Women's Association, the International Health Exchange and Cooperation Center NHC PRC (IHECC) and the World Health Organization (WHO).
Conceptualized in 2016, the Lancet RMNCAH Commission has been developed in close collaboration with Dr Wang to enhance the collaboration between Chinese researchers with the rest of the world and improve maternal and child health in China.
In his presentation, Prof George Patton of the University of Melbourne described how the Commission report is relevant to countries globally. Pointing out that China is facing similar health-related problems to outher countries, he commented on China’s “remarkable capacity to find solutions to problems quickly.
“Those solutions,” he said, “are likely to be relevant not only to China but to the rest of the world.”
The Commission was co-chaired by three prominent female researchers from China: Prof Jie Qiao of Peking University; Dr Song Li of the Department of Women and Children Health, National Health Commission; and Prof Jun Zhu of Sichuan University. The Commissioners, half of whom were women, included a global group of 16 Chinese commissioners from top universities and government departments in China and eight international commissioners, including from University College London and the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, UK, University of Melbourne, Australia, and Johns Hopkins University, USA. They convened to strengthen collaboration between the China medical community with the international medical community in this field.
Prof Therese Hesketh of University College London said: “Working on this Commission was great privilege for me and an opportunity to work with some of the most influential people in the RMNCAH field in China.”
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