China / Hot Issues

Time to raise the bar on child health: survey

By WANG XIAODONG ( Updated: 2016-09-12 21:21

More than 70 percent of Chinese people believe children and adolescents should have annual physical checkups at professional hospitals, rather than at school health centers, according to a Chinese Medical Doctor Association survey.

The survey, released on Monday, also shows nearly 70 percent of people believe the checkups organized for students should include psychological consultation.

The survey was based on feedback from 42,404 people across China, including people of different professions, such as company employees, doctors, government employees, students and migrant workers, according to Yu Kong, director of the association's Adolescence Medicine Committee.

Nearly 32,000 of those surveyed said children and adolescents should have checkups at professional hospitals, compared to more than 8,500 respondents saying they should have checkups at schools, while some others said they didn't care.Students in China must have physical checkups before they are admitted to a school at a higher level, and all students should have a regular checkups every year when at school, according to health and education regulations. Schools should organize students to have checkups, the regulations state.

Wu Di, an endocrinology doctor at Beijing Children's Hospital, said in recent years the number of children suffering diseases such as hypertension and obesity had increased, but in many cases they were diagnosed at professional hospitals rather than at school health centers.

"Students in China in general have check ups at their schools rather than at more professional hospitals," Yu, from the Chinese Medical Doctor Association, said. "This is because school authorities are in charge of the checkups."

However, the regulations were made decades ago and should be updated to suit the new situations, she said.

For example, most schools don't cover sexual development and psychological consultation at the check-ups, according to the regulations, but the number of students facing these problems has been increasing in recent years and serious consequences could occur if the problems are not properly addressed, she said.

Related regulations for checkups should be revised to reduce health risks for children and adolescents, she said.

For example, health authorities should be allowed to take part in student checkups, while current checkups should be extended to cover more private areas such as sexual checkups and psychological consultation, she said.

Yan Chunmei, a pediatrician at the Beijing Children's Hospital, said it was a good idea to transfer students to professional hospitals for regular checkups, but she was afraid big hospitals would be even more crowded as a result.

"Many hospitals such as Beijing Children's Hospital are already very crowded, and doctors are overburdened," she said.

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