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Prof. Guo Yan’s Essay Published in The Lancet

Peking University, Beijing, May 5, 2010: Prof. Guo Yan from the Department of Health Policy and Management, School of Public Health, Peking University, together with researchers from Edinburgh University, has published an essay "Causes of Deaths in Children Younger than 5 Years in China in 2008" in the latest edition of The Lancet.

During the last two decades, China has made remarkable achievements in reducing the mortality rate of children. During 1990-2008, the mortality rates in neonates, post-neonatal infants, and children were reduced by 70%, 72%, and 71% respectively, meeting the targets set in the Millennium Development Goal 4. Above all, the mortality rates in children younger than 5 years during 1990-1995 and 2002-2007 decreased especially rapidly, by 31% and 48%. However, there are few essays published globally on deaths of Chinese children.

This research is part of the global research of burden of diseases for children. The authors systematically searched Chinese databases that were available to the public. They also obtained information from 206 high-quality community-based longitudinal studies of different causes of deaths in children (<5 years). A statistical model was developed to estimate the total number of deaths in children according to provinces, age groups, and main causes. Findings show that the leading cause of deaths in 2008 was preterm birth complications and that congenital abnormality, accidents and sudden infant death syndrome increased in importance during this period.

Data collected at provincial level show that apart form vaccination and the introduction of other health interventions, improvement of infrastructure, development of health systems, higher level of education, increased personal and household wealth, introduction of the one-child policy, and increased intervention coverage are crucial in reducing mortality rates of children. Furthermore, China provides an innovative research model, which takes into consideration factors of social, economic, and demographic policies, and determinants of child survival, while comparing respective importance of each factor. The model is instrumental in future studies.

For many years, experts from the WHO and UNICEF have collaborated to obtain useful information on deaths of children in low-income and middle-income countries for epidemiological estimates, but they have paid little attention to China. By this research, the authors found that the high quantity and quality of papers on this topic were very impressive. Future global researches in disease burden should not continue to ignore existing studies and information from China, especially with China’s large population.

The review of this essay published in the same edition pointed out that data from published Chinese papers have long been an ignored valuable resource and that by analyzing those data with standard method, the authors found out the trends of mortality rates in Chinese neonates and children and causes — a remarkable research providing the world with unparalleled information and methods concerning estimates, trends and disparity of mortality rates of children. This new report is considered a milestone.


Translated by: Zhang Chunlan
Edited by: Seren
Source: PKU News (Chinese)