Zhengyan Zhao

chinese doctors day 2021 © Springer NatureProfessor Zhao is the former president of the Children’s hospital, Zhejiang University School of Medicine; Former Chairman of the Pediatric Society of Chinese Medical Association (CMA); Candidate Chairman of the China Preventive Medicine Association, Society of China Health (CPMA-SOCH); Consultant of  the International Society for Neonatal Screening; Chairman of the Pediatric Disease and Health Care Society of Chinese Maternal and Child Health Association (CMCHA); Vice-chairman of the Pediatrician Society of World Association of Chinese Doctors (WACD). He has made high achievements in the research fields of child nutrition, genetics and behavior.

Despite considerable progress over the past few decades, children’s health remains a major global challenge. Since 2005, World Journal of Pediatrics (WJP) has been devoted to reporting scientific achievements and to popularization of pediatric knowledge. We have been endeavoring to develop WJP as a forum for academic communication and medical education during the past 16 years and will all along contribute to the better health of children and adolescents.

What is the current situation and regional distribution of pediatric human resources in China

A national survey of pediatric human resources in China published in WJP recently showed that the median number of pediatricians per thousand children (PPTC) was 0.35 and that the ratio of the total number of pediatricians to the county’s area was 150 per 10,000 km2. Counties with a high number of PPTC also had a relatively high geographical density of pediatricians.

The unequal distribution of pediatricians is a persistent barrier to health care access of children worldwide. China has a high degree of geographic variation in the availability of local pediatricians, largely due to its vast size, large population and diverse economic levels. Thus, policy makers should consider geographic pediatrician density and adopt a targeted, location-based allocation strategy when recruiting new pediatricians to minimize inequalities in health care access and to balance the supply and demand. Especially in cases of a severe pandemic disease outbreak, such as COVID-19, the reasonable and effective distribution of pediatricians plays a critical role.

What do you think of the “third-child” policy and its challenge on Chinese Pediatricians?

Chinese central authorities released the “third-child” policy on May 31, 2021 to allow all couples to have a third child as the country faces the continuous challenges of a graying society and a decreasing birthrate. Recent news reported that China would establish a comprehensive support system by 2025 that helps to significantly reduce burdens on couples who want to have a third child.

The “third-child” policy and its supporting measures are estimated to lead to the birth of an increasing number of babies in the subsequent years. However, China is still facing a big challenge of a serious shortage of pediatricians. Therefore, we hope that more and more young Chinese doctors are devoted to becoming pediatricians, together with nurses and other healthcare staff, to better serve children’s health and care.

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