NGO head urges national protection systems

Updated 2018-01-24 14:24:02 China Daily

Helle Thorning-Schmidt, CEO of Save the Children International, plays with youngsters in Yunnan province.

The CEO of Save the Children International has called for active policies and systems to deal with the challenges faced by children in China and across the world.

"China is an enormous country with many children, and there is still a lot to do here," said Helle Thorning-Schmidt, a former Prime Minister of Denmark.

She said far too many children in China are undersized, and too many age 5 and younger die from preventable illnesses.

"Another issue we are working on is the problem of left-behind children. In China, 9 million children are left by their parents who leave home to work in urban settings," she said.

Though China has made great economic advances, there is still a wide gap between developed and underdeveloped areas.

"Some areas of China, especially those in the east, are becoming very wealthy, but people have to understand that there are other areas where children are still left behind and marginalized," she added.

"Reaching them will require very active policies from the government, and we want to help those children in terms of access to health and education services."

However, she praised the government's work to help children. "Compared with other countries, China has made a positive contribution to child welfare. Over 30 years, the country has lifted tens of millions of children out of poverty and into education."

That achievement was one of the reasons the world was able to achieve the UN Millennium Development Goals, she added.

During her visit to China in December, Thorning-Schmidt spoke about future cooperation with the Ministry of Civil Affairs.

"One of the big things we will be doing is establishing a child-protection system for the whole country. If we can establish a government-based protection system for children in China, it will be an inspiration to other countries and demonstrate how they can build similar systems," she said.

Children worldwide face three urgent problems, according to Thorning-Schmidt. "The first is that so many children under 5 die from illnesses that could be prevented. Nearly 6 million children across the world die under the age of 5, and that is something we need to change," she said.

Another issue is that we have to ensure that all children have access to education. That is a major goal for Save the Children and the global community, according to Thorning-Schmidt.

"The third is that too many children live with violence, either from war and conflict, or in their families. We want to build up systems to protect them," she added.

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