UNICEF HK Ambassador Trey Lee promotes maternal and child health in rural communities of Qinghai

 

UNICEF HK Ambassador Trey Lee promotes maternal and child health in rural communities of Qinghai

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© UNICEF HK/2013
BEIJING/ HONG KONG, 19 December 2013 –Today, at a press conference in Beijing, Mr Trey Lee, Hong Kong Committee for UNICEF (UNICEF HK) Ambassador and world-renowned cellist, spoke to Beijing media about his recent visit to remote Xunhua County in Qinghai Province to promote UNICEF’s work with the National Health and Family Planning Commission to improve maternal and child health and nutrition.
Trey Lee also had a musical exchange with migrant children from Changxindian Central Primary School of Beijing, sharing what he witnessed in Qinghai, including stories of a female village doctor and a boy suffering from cerebral palsy due to childbirth complications. Trey Lee was also accompanied on his field mission by UNICEF HK Ambassador Ms Gigi Leung.
The Qinghai field trip was Trey Lee’s first mission with UNICEF following his appointment as celebrity Ambassador by UNICEF HK last year. During the visit, he visited rural families in Xunhua and participated in efforts to raise awareness among rural villagers about proper child nutrition. About 8 million children in China are stunted due to poor infant and young child feeding practices. Trey also visited health centres to inspect the work of UNICEF-trained health workers who conduct antenatal check-ups, deliver babies and perform medical checks for newborns.

© UNICEF HK/2013
As a world-renowned cellist, Trey played several pieces, including ‘Traumerei’ by Robert Schumann, ‘Csardas’ by Monti as well as a Qinghai folk song ‘Seasons’, to express his care for the local women and children of Xunhua County. “Many mothers and children in Xunhua suffer from preventable and curable diseases. I witnessed how UNICEF has helped introduce new strategies to overcome difficulties and to reach the most vulnerable families in the remote region to improve the situation. Seeing the positive changes supported by UNICEF, I feel hopeful about the children.”
During the field visit, Trey brought his cello and shared music with the local women and children on a mountain at over 3,000 metres. “It is my first time to have a performance at such a high altitude. I think that music is a special language. There are different ethnic minority groups in Qinghai and I speak none of their languages, but music has a special power which helps bridge our communication gap. When I played cello in front of the local children, I could feel that we are connected.”
In this trip, Trey was most impressed by a female village doctor who is a university graduate with professional qualification. Instead of pursuing her career in a city after graduation, she chose to stay in a village in Qinghai and dedicated herself to the local maternal and child health care work. Trey expressed, “at the beginning, there was no health clinic in her village. The doctor thus transformed her house into one. Later, a health centre was built and she worked there for almost 9 years. With training supported by UNICEF, she has become an effective teacher of local young mothers about baby care knowledge including the need to vaccinate children. This knowledge in fact is vitally important to these village mothers and children. I am deeply moved by her passion.”
In a small village, Trey met a two-year-old boy suffering from a serious birth trauma. “He has cerebral palsy so he cannot walk, cry, speak, and control excretion. He has no way to realise his dreams.” The little boy suffered from jaundice when he was born, and after three days and developed cerebral palsy, due to the belated treatment owing to the lack of ultra-violet light therapy equipment. Now, UNICEF supports training of local professionals and improves medical facilities to prevent similar tragedies from happening. “To everyone working for UNICEF in the world, the female village doctor and myself, children are our dreams. We all hope that every child can grow happily and healthily, and the number of children suffering can be reduced to ‘Zero’ one day.”
In the press conference, Trey interacted with children from Changxindian Central Primary School of Beijing via music and shared their dreams for the future. Many of the child musicians have migrated to Beijing from rural areas. Trey also encouraged the public to support UNICEF’s work to improve the maternal and child health situation in Qinghai.

Ms Leonie Ki, Chairman of UNICEF HK Advocacy and Public Relations Committee expressed, “through the field visit to Qinghai, we hope to arouse public attention in both Hong Kong and Mainland China on health issues faced by women and children in Qinghai. At the same time, we would like to demonstrate UNICEF’s work to improve the local maternal and child health services. We hope everyone can work towards realising the goal of Zero Suffering for children.”
The Qinghai field visit was filmed. UNICEF HK will produce a documentary TV special of the field visit to raise more public awareness and funding for maternal and child care projects in China.
© UNICEF HK/2013

© UNICEF HK/2013
© UNICEF HK/2013
In the conference, Chow Tai Fook Jewelry Group Limited and Chow Tai Fook Charity Foundation donated HK$2 million, to continue its support to UNICEF’s work for women and children in poor areas of China. A part of the donation will support UNICEF’s ‘Cash Transfers for Deprived Children’ Project, to boost access to critical services in 14 counties in Yunnan, Sichuan and Gansu, where the maternal mortality rate and under-five mortality rate are currently very high. Pregnant women will receive a cash subsidy as an incentive to get medical care for themselves and their babies, such as antenatal checkup, giving birth in hospital, birth certification, postnatal care and immunisation for infants. Moreover, the donation from Chow Tai Fook would sponsor a series of programmes organized by UNICEF HK, such as “Little Artists Big Dreams Drawing Competition” and field visits, motivating the public to support UNICEF’s work to help deprived children in China.
In addition, UNICEF HK presented certificates to Chow Tai Fook, New World Beijing Hotel and Parsons Music Limited to thank for their support to the Qinghai field visit and the press conference.
According to a 2011 survey by UNICEF, among Xunhua children less than three years old, 15 per cent are stunted (1.6 times of national average), 10.7 per cent are underweight (three times of national average). Overall in Qinghai, the anaemia prevalence is very common among children aged 6 to 24 months old, which accounts for 41 per cent. Besides, there were only 10 per cent of the mothers who followed national suggestions to receive five antenatal check-ups in 2010. But thanks to UNICEF, the antenatal check rate has now reached 87 per cent.
UNICEF’s safe motherhood strategy has been scaled up in over 2000 counties in China and has contributed to reduction of China’s overall maternal mortality rate from 59 per 100,000 births in 1999 to less than 25 per 100,000 births in 2013. During this period, China’s hospital delivery rate has increased dramatically reaching 99 per cent today. For more information, please click here.

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