VIENTIANE, April 24 (Xinhua) -- Children will receive free healthcare at government hospitals in 2017, according to a new government policy aiming to reduce the rate of mortality of children under five, local daily Vientiane Times reported Monday.

The policy known as the "Strategy and Action Plan for Integrated Service on Reproductive Maternal, Newborn and Child Health," focuses on pregnant women and their access to more healthcare services at hospitals and dispensaries across the country and also provides free-of-charge care to children, particularly newborns and children under five, heath officials have confirmed.

Director General of the Hygiene and Health Promotion Department under the Ministry of Health, Phath Keungsaneth spoke to Vientiane Times on Friday on the importance of the new policy.

He said that the new policy aims to enable all children under five in all provinces across the country to enjoy better access to health services including free health checks and treatment at government hospitals and dispensaries, not only to underprivileged children.

The policy started in 2013 focusing on free treatment to only poor mothers and children in targeted provinces, aiming to reduce the mortality of children under five including the promotion of access to better quality health services for poor mothers and children, a health authority said.