China will provide folic acid free of charge to women in the rural areas of the country who are planning to have a baby to prevent neural tube defect among new born babies.
The program "Supplementing Folic Acid to Prevent NTD" is said to be one of the major public health programs that China is launching in the year. Under the program, women in the rural areas who plan to have a baby will receive free folic acid. The Chinese health authority aims to have 60% of the targeted women know about folic acid and 60% of these taking the vitamin by the end of this year. It hopes to raise the percentage of women acknowledging the medicine and women taking the medicine to 90% by the end of 2011.
China's Ministry of Health requires that the folic acid is purchased according to the relevant national rules to ensure the quality of the medicine. It says the folic acid shall be nationally approved, weigh 0.4 milligram per tablet, the manufacturers must possess the GMP qualification, and insurance shall be provided for the purchased folic acid.
The Ministry of Health states that health departments at various levels shall make a plan for the total demand of folic acid in their region and distribute it to the targeted women following a collective purchase.
It is understood that a lack of folic acid, an essential vitamin, in the bodies of women of child-bearing age, can lead to NTD among new born babies.