China hopes to reverse low birth rate with free fertility treatment
China's National Healthcare Security Administration has said that it would extend its coverage to bear the costs of fertility treatments like assisted reproductive technology (ART) and in vitro fertilisation (IVF) for couples trying to conceive
Beijing: In a bid to address a plummeting birth rate, China is planning to offer free fertility treatments to its citizens under the national insurance scheme.
The country’s National Healthcare Security Administration has said that it would extend its coverage to bear the costs of fertility treatments like assisted reproductive technology (ART) and in vitro fertilisation (IVF) for couples trying to conceive.
The Chinese administration has described the country’s declining population as one of the biggest obstacles to national development and highlighted existing policies that cover the costs of labour-inducing drugs labour analgesia to help “reduce the burden of infertility.”
According to CNN, the extended coverage is part of a wider attempt by Chinese authorities to persuade people to get married and have more children to fill the population gap.
The average cost of fertility treatment in cities like Shanghai ranges between $4,500 to $5,000. While the number of ART-approved facilities in China as of 2021 is 539. Each year these organisations facilitate more than a million IVF cycles, according to China’s National Clinical Research Centre for Obstetrics and Gynaecology.
China’s population drop
Last year, China – the erstwhile country with the largest population – recorded its first population fall in six decades.
The country’s National Bureau of Statistics reported a drop of roughly 850,000 people compared to a population of 1.41175 billion in 2022, making it the first decline since 1961.
Moreover, UN experts have predicted a further shrink of the population by 109 million by 2050.
Demographer Yi Fuxian told Reuters, “China’s demographic and economic outlook is much bleaker than expected. China will have to adjust its social, economic, defence and foreign policies.”
China scrapped its controversial one-child policy in 2015 amid concerns about a growing population of the elderly which in turn threatened the country’s workforce and economic stability.
Couples in Sichuan allowed to have ‘unlimited’ kids
In January, couples in China’s Sichuan province were allowed to have as many children as they like.
Under the new policy, unmarried couples were also permitted to have and raised children.
Earlier, single women were banned from registering a birth.
President Xi Jinping has made it a priority to boost birth rates in the country by offering tax breaks and better maternal healthcare to slow down a declining population.
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