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Project Hope Launches Hospital Program in Henan
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Project Hope, a public welfare undertaking initiated and organized by the China Youth Development Foundation (CYDF), launched a hospital program in Henan Province on July 25. The program aims to promote medical services in China's poverty-stricken rural areas. 

Two township clinics in Xinxian County will be refurbished and converted into hospitals as part of the program. One is located in Kafang Township, and will be renamed Vantage Hospital. The other is in Jianchanghe Township, and will be known as Renhe Hospital after refurbishment.

Wang Ming is a peasant from Kafang Village. He never knew his mother who died giving birth to him. Hu Xianqing, president of the Kafang Township clinic, said: "We lack the professional medical equipment. We couldn't even operate or carry out a blood transfusion to save Wang's mother." 

According to Hu, there are only two wards in the clinic. It is only equipped to conduct basic procedures such as surgical excisions and suturing, and to treat appendicitis and physoceles. Of the nine members of staff, only two are qualified doctors. However, both are now over 50. Moreover, only one of the doctors has a medical degree; the other possesses a certificate.

"Talent and not medical devices are what we need more. However, even junior college students aren't willing to work here," Hu lamented.

Kafang is located in a mountainous region with poor transportation facilities. "No matter what we do, such as providing training opportunities, even secondary specialized school students won't work here for a low salary," Hu complained.

Things aren't much better at the Jianchanghe Township clinic. According to Ma Kesong, the clinic's president, the clinic employs only 17 people, including five retirees. "We've had to resort to renting out rooms in order to pay staff salaries. The clinic has a debt of 200,000 yuan now," Ma said.

According to CYDF, the Project Hope hospital program was launched to help address issues of high medical costs and limited access to treatment faced by farmers. Tu Meng, secretary-general of the CYDF, explained that the minimum amount required for each Project Hope hospital is 500,000 yuan (US$66,722). Donations are used to rebuild dilapidated buildings, update medical equipment and provide staff training. Renhe Development Group Co., Ltd and Zhongshan Vantage Gas Appliance Stock Co., Ltd. donated the one million yuan (US$125,445) needed to refurbish the two clinics. 

Explaining why Xinxian County was selected for the launch, Tu said that the county was the Hubei-Henan-Anhui revolutionary base of the Communist Party of China during the Anti-Japanese War. As this year is the 70th anniversary of the Red Army's famous Long March, it seemed like a good choice. Further, CYDF officials discovered during their investigation visits that up to a third of the township clinics were barely making ends meet.

The hospital program is a new undertaking for Project Hope, which focuses on education for poor rural children. Since it was established in October 1989, Project Hope has built about 12,559 schools around the country, enabling over 2.8 million poor students to receive an education.

( by Wu Nanlan, August 1, 2006)

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