China's National Healthcare Security Administration announced the inclusion of labor analgesia and assisted fertility technology in the coverage of medical insurance as part of boarder efforts to safeguard people's reproductive rights and fertility willingness, following the recent adjustments of birth registration in some places.
Healthcare authorities have always attached great importance to population issues, the administration said, adding that eligible fertility support medicines, including bromohentine, triprelline and clomiphene, have already been covered by medical insurance, which has helped many patients.
The move came after the population in the Chinese mainland fell for the first time in 61 years in 2022, decreasing by a total of 850,000, data released by the National Bureau of Statistics of China showed.
A survey conducted by the National Health Commission in 2021 showed that women of childbearing age continue to have low intention of having a child, and factors such as heavy financial pressure and concerns about career development have become major obstacles to childbearing.
Earlier, many places in China, including Southwest China's Sichuan Province and South China's Guangdong Province, announced that they will end restrictions on marital status and the number of births used for the registration of newborns starting from February 15, further simplifying the registration process.
The incidence of infertility in China increased from 11.9 percent to 15.5 percent between 2007 and 2010, and approached 18 percent by 2020. The number of infertile couples in China reached 50.5 million in 2020, according to media reports.
As early as March 26, 2022, Beijing took the lead in adopting assisted reproductive technology into the medical insurance. A total of 16 assisted reproductive technologies, including intrauterine artificial insemination, embryo transfer and sperm selection, were covered by the healthcare, making Beijing the first city in China to include assisted reproductive technology in the medical insurance.
Currently, the inclusion of appropriate labor analgesia and assisted reproductive technology projects into medical insurance will make a positive contribution to reducing the medical burden of more patients across the country, said the National Healthcare Security Administration.
In addition, the new policy also encourages hospitals of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) to open fertility clinics to provide infertility diagnosis and treatment to patients.
In 2018, the National Health Commission launched projects related to the treatment of infertility, including the treatment of endometrium thin infertility and male oligospermia, by adopting TCM.
The National Health Commission and the State Administration of Traditional Chinese Medicine will also conduct training on the use of TCM and formulate and promote a diagnosis and treatment plan for infertility treatment with integrated TCM and modern medicine, so as to further promote the practice across the country.