Five counties in southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region will offer free health checks for couples who are planning to have babies next year, a move to reduce birth defects in the areas.
The region's pilot program will start next January in Dagze, Chongye, Nyingchi, Qamdo and Bangoin counties, according to a written statement released Thursday by the region's population and family planning committee.
Based on the check-up results, doctors will evaluate the pregnancy status and provide advice to reduce birth defects, it said.
In 2010, the central government initiated the free pre-pregnancy health check project, involving 100 pilot counties in 18 provinces, and the number increased to 220 counties in 31 provinces, municipalities and autonomous regions this year. Namling in Xigaze prefecture became the only national pilot county for the project, according to the statement.