Authorities are considering re-imposing compulsory premarital health checks after scrapping the examinations two years ago. Vice-Minister of Health Wang Longde told an international women's conference in Beijing yesterday that the State Council was considering the move because relatively few couples had voluntarily taken the health tests and some observers were worried that their absence could help spread diseases such as Aids. 'We scrapped compulsory premarital checks in 2003 because we thought it was a personal matter,' Dr Wang said. 'Now we think it is more than a personal matter.' He added that the central government was still studying which diseases should be included in screening, although HIV/Aids would be on the list. Dr Wang said: 'It is necessary for both parties [of a marriage] to know the physical condition of each other [before they get married], particularly in terms of Aids, and we will make a new decision.' Speaking at the sidelines of the conference, Dr Wang said the State Council probably would make a decision in the issue this year. He said if the health checks were re-imposed, the list of diseases screened might be revised. Officials in Heilongjiang province sparked a heated debate in July after passing a local regulation re-imposing compulsory premarital health checks. Some provinces, including Guangdong, have indicated they did not plan to follow suit. The turnout for voluntary checks has dropped as low as 0.43 per cent of couples because of the 100 yuan cost.