Despite these problems, however, China offers lessons on how to improve health in less developed nations. As Chapter 4 described, three factors seem to explain how China (like Sri Lanka, Costa Rica, Vietnam, and Cuba) achieved excellent health outcomes at low cost. It is not surprising that health outcomes improved when access to medical care improved. But improved health out- comes depended even more on emphasizing family planning and increasing education. Increasing women’s education was especially important. Once women’s educational levels increased, their power in the family increased, giving them greater control over family planning. Women’s lives thus were less often cut short by childbirth, and their babies were born healthier. In addition, as women’s status rose, they and the children who depended on them more often received a fair share of the family’s food, thus reducing malnutrition and increasing life expectancies.
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Improve Health in Less Developed Nations