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UNICEF Eminent Advocate for Children Queen Rania visits migrant women and children in Beijing

© Jordan/2007/Nasser Ayyoub
Her Majesty inaugurating the hospital as a BFH
BEIJING, 5 September 2007 - Her Majesty Queen Rania Al-Abdullah of Jordan today visited a migrant community at Shibalidian Township in Chaoyang District, Beijing, to experience first-hand the situation of migrant women and children.

“I am very impressed by the work that is being done here – and elsewhere in Beijing, and China at large – to address the needs of migrant communities, particularly mothers and children.” Queen Rania, UNICEF’s first ever Eminent Advocate for Children, said. “What I have seen here today is a model of good practice in tackling the challenges posed by large migrant communities. It attests to the commitment of the Chinese government, alongside UNICEF, the WHO and other civil society organizations, to ensure that their children have not just the right start, but the best start of life.”

Shibalidian is typical of many townships in Beijing and other cities throughout eastern China, having received an influx of thousands of migrants from rural areas of the country in recent years. Internal migration in China is thought to number up to 150 million people, including 20 million children.

During her visit, Queen Rania toured a community health centre, where she met a number of pregnant women receiving antenatal care and learned about UNICEF’s work with national, county and local partners to improve health services and educate the local community. Queen Rania also visited a village clinic where she observed medical workers vaccinating children.

Queen Rania’s visit championed the cause of this often invisible section of the population, emphasizing the need for better health care among China’s migrants.
UNICEF and WHO are supporting the Chinese Government to ensure universal access to an essential package of maternal and child health services, and to promote appropriate infant and young child feeding. The children’s agency is also working to improve childhood vaccination coverage among migrant communities in two provinces, including in Chaoyang District in Beijing.

“Her Majesty’s visit has really highlighted the poor circumstances of migrant women and children in some parts of China,” said UNICEF Representative to China, Dr. Yin Yin Nwe, who accompanied Queen Rania. “As the number of migrant families continues to rise, it will be increasingly important for national and especially local authorities to finance and staff health facilities, schools and other public services.”
UNICEF and WHO are working with the Government of China to ensure universal access to an essential package of maternal and child health (MCH) care and promote appropriate infant and young child feeding among the migrant communities of Beijing. UNICEF is also working on similar activities in Hangzhou, and to improve access to the expanded programme on immunization (EPI) in Beijing and Zhejiang provinces.
Ten years ago, a UNICEF pilot demonstrated the value of appropriate ante-natal care and of ensuring that all births take place in hospitals or are assisted by a skilled attendant. This approach is now recommended throughout China, resulting in a progressive reduction of infant and maternal mortality (now around 17/1,000 births and 41/100,000 births, respectively, according to the latest data available in country). UNICEF and WHO work with policy makers and health providers at all levels, using local and global evidence to help implement locally adapted strategies to improve the quality of health services for migrant women and children, and to advocate for increased support from local authorities for enhanced MCH and EPI services for these vulnerable groups. Among the activities supported by these two agencies are:
• Conduct of surveys and analyses of conditions for migrant women and children in project areas;
• Development of appropriate information systems (registries and tracking mechanisms) for floating and mobile populations;
• Cooperative development of culturally relevant local strategies to improve household practices;
• Establishment of temporary or mobile basic services as needed;
• Improvement of service quality through staff training and deployment, coordination among different agencies and service-providers, and supervision of practices;
• Dissemination of appropriate messages and information using a variety of media.
These activities are not occurring in isolation. For example, the government is considering a package of minimum social security measures for migrants, including: improved access of migrant children to education; protection against and treatment of accidental injury and serious illness; pension programmes; workers’ mobility (including transferable vesting of rights and entitlements); and access to affordable housing. UNICEF and WHO’s activities therefore play an important role in modelling the nature and mechanism of providing much-needed services to one of China’s most vulnerable population groups.

UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.

For further information, please contact UNICEF China:

Dr. David Hipgrave, UNICEF China, Tel.: (86-10) 65323131 Ext. 1601; Cell: +13701004234,
Email : dhipgrave@unicef.org

Liu Li, UNICEF China, Tel.: (86-10) 65323131 Ext. 1303; Cell: +13701066671
Email: liliu@unicef.org

© Jordan/2007/Nasser Ayyoub Her Majesty speaking to a health worker at the Jamil Tutounji Hospital




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