HONG KONG, 24 September 2013 — The Hong Kong Committee for UNICEF (UNICEF HK) Ambassadors Gigi Leung and Trey Lee visited Xunhua, a poor county in Qinghai where many ethnic minorities live recently. During the field visit, the two ambassadors got to know how UNICEF supports pregnant women and children with one-stop, all-rounded services, including antenatal and medical health care, nutrition and health support. Trey Lee, a world-renowned cellist, echoed his support to Qinghai children through the performance of a classic Hong Kong pop song ‘Below the Lion Rock’ and a Qinghai folk song on top of the mountain. The two UNICEF HK Ambassadors also called for public donations to support the maternal and child health care work of UNICEF in China, to achieve Zero Suffering for children.
|It is the seventh time the warmhearted UNICEF HK Ambassador Gigi Leung has joined the field visit with UNICEF. Turning a new leaf after Gigi’s marriage, she is still concerned about the needs of women and children in poor areas. This time, she brought her husband to the field in Xunhua, Qinghai, to witness how the ethnic minority, Salar people live. Gigi said, “It is even more meaningful to do charity work with family. I hope I can inspire more people to bring happiness to children in remote areas, and let more people understand UNICEF’s work in China.”
For Trey Lee, it is his first field visit with UNICEF HK after his ambassador appointment last year. It is also his first visit to Xunhua. He came across many needy families in the remote area, who were left behind in the economic prosperity in China, “According to a 2011 survey, among Xunhua children less than three years old, 15 per cent are stunting (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.”
Since 2011, UNICEF reached over 30,000 children aged from 6 months old to 2 years old with the pilot launch of Complementary Food Supplements scheme, and achieved a success in halving the prevalence of anaemia. This appealing result encouraged the Qinghai Provincial Government to extend the scheme to the whole province, including Xunhua. Trey was deeply impressed by his first experience of the change brought by UNICEF, “My first field visit with UNICEF to Qinghai was a true life lesson. UNICEF has done a lot to alleviate malnutrition for children. We distributed Ying Yang Bao (nutrition packs) to families, providing growth nutrition to weak children.”
|Apart from home visit and distributing gifts to children, Gigi and Trey also visited health centres, to understand how UNICEF-trained village doctors encouraged pregnant women to receive antenatal check-ups, deliver at hospital and bring babies for regular medical checks. Gigi said many local families are not aware of the importance of antenatal check-up that only 10 per cent of the mothers follow national suggestions to receive five antenatal check-ups. But thanks to UNICEF, the antenatal check rate has now reached 87 per cent, “However, some antenatal check-ups are still not up to WHO and national standard. Pregnant women who receive only basic check, such as weight measure and blood pressure check, risk losing their babies. Children can also face growth and health problems because of the late diagnosis. This is very heart-breaking indeed. ”
Trey revealed another common situation in Xunhua, that pregnant women give birth at home and newborn babies cannot receive timely health checks. This can delay the follow up treatment for babies’ healthy growth and development. A two-year-old Tibetan boy Jie suffers from cerebral palsy and physical disability because of the belated treatment. Gigi sighed in despair about the boy, “I received phototheraphy when I was born; if Jie could have accessed to the same treatment when he was born, he wouldn’t have suffered from cerebral palsy.”
There are many ethnic minorities living in Qinghai, but Trey was able to break the language barrier with music. To express his care to the local children and women, he played a classic Hong Kong pop song “Below the Lion Rock” and a Kazakh folk song “A Place Far Away” with his cello on the top of the mountain. “As a cellist, the most touching thing is to see how music helps communicate and advocate. There are different ethnic minority groups in Qinghai and I speak none of their languages, but as I played cello in front of them, I can feel we are connected. I will help children by raising the awareness of child rights through my music.”
The local children were very happy to receive the surprise and small gifts such as eggs, soaps and toys brought by the two UNICEF HK Ambassadors. “The children in remote areas are very pure-hearted. They are not living in a material world polluted with greed, thus they can feel the love and care from others easily. A used toy, a hopscotch in the sand, some nutritious food can already bring them happiness… Happiness, is just that simple. ”
UNICEF HK Ambassadors Gigi Leung and Trey Lee appealed to Hong Kong people to join the ‘China Children’s Health Fund’ Monthly Pledge Programme and give continuous support towards the UNICEF’s maternal and child health care work for the deprived families. Gigi said, “If Hong Kong people can make little sacrifices by eating and buying less it could save many lives of children in China!” Trey said frankly, “While there was much cause for optimism— the selfless village doctor who chose to stay behind and help her fellow villagers or the steadfast grandmother who tirelessly watches over her grandson with cerebral palsy— it also highlighted how much more work there is still to be done. I hope you will all join me in supporting UNICEF’s work on improving maternal and child health of deprived areas in China! ”
UNICEF has so far ensured safe delivery service in 50 poor counties in China, reaching over 310,000 pregnant women in need. The hospital delivery rate was increased by half while maternal deaths reduced by 40 per cent. The maternal and child health care programme mainly supported by UNICEF HK, is now further extended to reach almost 5 million people in nearly 3,000 poor counties. For more information, please click here.
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For more information please contact:
Hong Kong Committee for UNICEF
|Jamie Wong, Communication Specialist||Tel / Mobile: 2836 2967 / 6149 3378||Email: [email protected]|