Sunday, 22 December 2013

Cellist promotes maternal and child health in NW China

Trey Lee, Hong Kong Committee for UNICEF ambassador and world-renowned cellist, shared with the media in Beijing on December 19, 2013, the details of his recent visit to remote Xunhua County in northwest China's Qinghai Province to promote UNICEF's work with the National Health and Family Planning Commission to improve maternal and child health and nutrition.
Lee also talked about playing music with the migrant children from Changxindian Central Primary School in Beijing and his experiences in Qinghai, including moving stories about a female village doctor and a boy suffering from cerebral palsy.
Actress Gigi Leung also joined the visit as an ambassador to the committee.
The Qinghai field trip was Lee's first mission with UNICEF following his appointment as celebrity ambassador by UNICEF HK last year.
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. Lee visited health centers to inspect the work of UNICEF-trained health workers who conduct antenatal check-ups, deliver babies and perform medical checks for newborns.
Lee played several cello pieces for the local women and children in Xunhua County, including Traumerei by Robert Schumann, Csardas by Monti and a Qinghai folk song called Seasons.
"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," Lee said.
"It was my first time performing at such a high altitude. I think 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 the cello in front of the local children, I could feel a connection between us." said Lee.
Lee was also impressed by a female village doctor who gave up her chance of a better life in the city after college to stay in a village in Qinghai and dedicate herself to the local maternal and child healthcare work.
"When she arrived, the village did not have a clinic, so she turned her house into one. Later, a health center was built and she worked there for almost 9 years. With UNICEF's support, she has helped many local young mothers take better care of their children, including teaching them about vaccinations. I was deeply moved by her passion," Lee said.
In a small village, Lee also met a two-year-old boy suffering from a serious birth trauma. "He has cerebral palsy so he cannot walk, cry, speak, or control his bowel movements. He suffered from jaundice when he was born, and after three days developed cerebral palsy due to 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," Lee continued.
Leonie Ki, chairperson of UNICEF HK Advocacy and Public Relations Committee, said, "Through the field visit to Qinghai, we hope to draw public attention in both Hong Kong and the mainland of China to health issues faced by women and children. At the same time, we would like to demonstrate UNICEF's efforts to improve local maternal and child health services. We hope everyone can work towards realizing the goal of zero suffering for children."
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.
Source: Women of China

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