Dr. Kenyon arrived in Shanghai, China this morning to visit with leaders of various health care institutions and explore ways in which Project HOPE may be of assistance in the future. This being his first visit to Shanghai, Dr. Kenyon also took some time to visit Shanghai Children’s Medical Center (SCMC), which Project HOPE helped establish and where we conduct several programs.
Dr. Kenyon, Linda Heitzman and I met with Dr. Huang Hong, Secretary General of the Shanghai Health and Family Planning Commission. Dr. Huang, who was a HOPE fellow at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin in 2003, praised Project HOPE’s work in Shanghai and in Dujiangyan City following the 2008 earthquake there. She also thanked Project HOPE for its support of SCMC, noting that the hospital in now well-known in China for providing excellent care to children with acute illnesses, especially congenital heart disease and cancer.
Dr. Huang shared with Dr. Kenyon some of Shanghai’s most pressing health challenges: acute infections that are mostly contracted from abroad, noncommunicable diseases due to improving economic development, and an aging population with higher incidences of diabetes, heart disease and cancer. It will be important for Shanghai to improve its community health service capacity. Shanghai has 2.2 million children aged 0-14 years; however, the city only has 3,200 pediatricians and around 3,200 beds for pediatric patients that must also accommodate some patients who travel to Shanghai for medical care who are from other areas.
In the afternoon, we met the Vice Mayor of Shanghai, Ms. Weng, Tie Hui at City Hall. It was an honor to meet the Vice Mayor given her busy daily schedule. Ms. Weng is very familiar with Project HOPE’s work in Shanghai, especially at SCMC. She thanked us for our support and mentioned that SCMC is a very famous pediatric hospital in China now. On behalf of the Shanghai government, the Vice Mayor thanked us for our vision and long-term, sustained support.
Ms. Weng outlined some of the local health issues. She said that the average life expectancy of Shanghai residents is about 82 years, and the health care system must provide good care for its residents and people from other provinces who seek advanced medical treatment in Shanghai. In addition to ensuring that Shanghai residents have sufficient health care services, the Vice Mayor also mentioned that the Shanghai government has spent 1 billion USD providing tremendous support toward health facility infrastructure development and health care worker training to eleven less developed regions of China. At SCMC, patients from less developed countries like Morocco also receive treatment. Shanghai’s support to Kashi City and four counties of the Xin Jiang Autonomous Region significantly improved maternal and child health and decreased the infant mortality rate by 20%.
Dr. Kenyon shared with the Vice Mayor that Project HOPE award Mr. Jian Zhongi, President of SCMC our 2016 Global Health Partner Award for his leadership and years of collaboration with Project HOPE in solving global challenges in pediatric health. Ms. Weng was delighted to know it. Dr. Kenyon also stated that SCMC’s success is based on its leadership’s vision and its staff’s diligent contributions. Dr. Kenyon is glad to know that SCMC has the capacity to help other regions of China and other countries to improve pediatric health care.
Dr. Kenyon also noted that the recent Chinese health reforms which emphasize primary care are important tasks for the government. While Project HOPE currently has a few projects in China – especially in pediatric asthma and adult diabetes care - he would also like to see Project HOPE help build a mechanism to enhance community health services and capacity.
Dr. Kenyon ended the visit with the Vice Mayor by saying that he is looking for further dialogue to find opportunities for future collaborations. The Vice Mayor said that the collaboration between Project HOPE and SCMC has lasted about 30 years, and Dr. Kenyon mentioned that he intends for Project HOPE to have further fruitful collaborations in Shanghai for the next 30 years.
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