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'Tomorrow Plan' Helps Disabled Orphans

A total of 35,000 disabled orphans in China have received free surgery and rehabilitation treatment over the past three year, thanks to a program launched by the Ministry of Civil Affairs (CMCA).

The "Tomorrow Plan -- Operations and Rehabilitation for Disabled Orphans", launched in May 2004, has promoted medical care for orphans suffering from congenital diseases and infantile paralysis.

More than 750 million yuan (US$96.2 million) has been used in the program, including 700 million yuan from the public welfare fund raised from the welfare lottery and 50 million yuan from public donations, Li Liguo, vice minister of Civil Affairs, said on Wednesday.

Li said the program had also brought more opportunities for the children to return to families or find jobs in the future.

"Among the disabled orphans who received treatment, 5,000 have found new families at home or overseas," Li said.

About 66,000 orphans and abandoned babies live in welfare homes nationwide and about half are disabled, according to the Ministry of Civil Affairs.

Li said the ministry had decided to extend the program to focus on treatment of children suffering from brain paralysis or other serious diseases.

He also said the ministry planned to install more rehabilitation equipment in orphanages and train more rehabilitation professionals.

"We will try to ensure prompt medical checks for disabled orphans so they can receive timely treatment and have a better chance to fully recover," Li said.

Official statistics show that the rate of new-borns with congenital defects has risen from 11 per thousand in 2002 to 14 per thousand in 2005.
(Xinhua News Agency May 31, 2007)

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