The poorer rural areas of Xinjiang, China, are difficult to access and their economy is weak. This is reflected in the health and development of the infants and children in these areas. Many infants are underweight and suffer from health problems like anemia and growth retardation, as a result of nutritional deficiency. And the lack of resources means there is hardly any provision for preschool education for young children.
In partnership with the China Research Development Foundation, the Philips Foundation has set up a pilot program in Jimunai County, Xinjiang, to address these problems. By leveraging our mother and child care expertise and utilizing our financial resources, we hope to improve infant nutritional health and enhance accessibility to preschool education.
The project has two parts, the first of which focuses on improving nutrition for pregnant and nursing mothers, as well as infants aged from 3 to 36 months. We distribute nutrition packages for babies and nutrition pills for pregnant and nursing mothers. We also aim to make long-term improvements by keeping health records and training healthcare providers in the field of mother and child nutritional health. The second part of the project focuses on providing preschool education. We establish kindergartens and equip them with the basic facilities, as well as recruiting and training volunteers as kindergarten teachers.
The project is now in its third year and we have already seen positive changes in infant health and education for young children. We will be following this project closely in 2015 and hope to be able to apply the model in other backward rural areas in China in the near future.