HAVANA, Jan. 2 (Xinhua) -- Cuba maintained its record low infant mortality rate in 2018, local media reported Wednesday.
The infant mortality rate was again 4 per 1,000 live births, Roberto Alvarez, head of the obstetrics and pediatrics department of the Health Ministry told the official daily Granma.
In fact, in the Caribbean island state, the incidence of death among newborns dropped slightly from 4.044 deaths per 1,000 in 2017 to 3.963 in 2018.
According to the preliminary data, there were 116,320 births last year, 1,349 more than the year before, a rise hailed by officials as Cuba's population is aging and birth rates are as low as in many developed countries.
The overall improvement in healthy births came as a result of Cuba's Family Doctor and Nurse program as well as a national program to diagnose, manage and prevent congenital defects and genetic diseases, said Alvarez.
The mortality rate due to congenital defects has fallen below one per 1,000 live births for the past six years, being at just 0.8 at the end of December.
In Cuba, newborns can get free monthly medical checkups in the first year, and are also examined by the geneticist and vaccinated against 12 preventable diseases.
Each pregnant woman receives an average of 17 medical checkups and nearly all of them give birth in hospital or at birth center.