Screening program helps keep rural kids healthy

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In July, staff from the China Energy Investment Corporation Foundation (CHN Energy Foundation) came together with medical experts from Beijing to offer congenital heart disease (CHD) screening for children at Lufeng People’s Hospital in Chuxiong, Yunnan Province. Children from low-income families who were found to have heart defects were able to receive prompt treatment with all costs covered by the foundation.

Since 2011, the CHN Energy Foundation has collaborated with the China Federation of Social Work and conducted the “Two Diseases Relief” program, targeting children from deprived backgrounds below the age of 19 with congenital heart disease and leukemia. Over the past 10 years, the program has spent 60 million yuan ($9.27 million), covered 2,218 towns in 31 provinces and provided treatment to approximately 30,000 children.

The program was initiated by former Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao due to the fact that treatment was often unaffordable for children from low-income families. In order to stop children dying from curable diseases and prevent families from becoming laden with debt, Wen proposed the launch of a pilot program to cure leukemia and congenital heart disease for children in rural areas in theGovernment Work Report on March 5, 2010.

On June 7, 2010, the former Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Civil Affairs jointly issued a document which advised the founding of a pilot program for eligible children below the age of 14. Responding to this appeal, the CHN Energy Foundation began its first charity program, “Love Action – Two Diseases Relief”, conducting disease screening on children in less developed areas.

Charities have since become implementing partners of the foundation’s screening program, taking charge of coordinating each local program. Hospitals have also partnered with the foundation to provide treatment including surgery to children in need. So far, more than 200 hospitals have taken part in the program. When children receive treatment, an electronic record and a paper record are generated to monitor their progress.

Meanwhile, social workers have also played an active role. In 2014, the program received funding from the central government as part of the “Medical Social Work Pilot Programs”. Money was distributed to 19 partner hospitals to purchase medical social work services.

Research on how social workers support children with leukemia and their families has also been conducted, emphasizing their important role in maintaining the well-being of those undergoing treatment. Methodologies, service tools, social impact, potential challenges and solutions are also discussed in research papers with the aim of benefitting the work of medical social workers.