More than 60,000 orphans were granted free health insurance on Wednesday in honor of the Children's Day.
The children, including Tibetans from the plateau province of Qinghai, are the latest beneficiaries of a Chinese Ministry of Civil Affairs (MCA) and China Children Insurance Foundation (CCIF) program launched in July 2009.
"The insurance contract will take effect today. It's the best gift our organization can offer to the children. And we hope more people can join us to help them," said CCIF managing director Heidi Hu.
The insurance, which is covered by donations and lasts for at least 12 months, is for underprivileged children and MCA-registered orphans. More than 440,000 orphans have benefited from the program since it began, according to Hu.
CCIF has already issued more than 1.2 million insurance contracts for orphans from 24 provincial regions. Each child is insured for 100,000 yuan (15,180 U.S. dollars) at a premium of 50 yuan (7.59 U.S. dollars) per year to cover the cost of treating 12 critical illnesses, including malignant tumors and conditions requiring organ or stem cell transplants.
Mei, a 17-year-old diabetic from the eastern province of Shandong, survived serious complications from the disease in March. She received insurance last year, when she was 16, the upper age limit to receive orphan benefits in China.8 "Mei's mother died after giving birth to her, and her father died in a car accident several years later. She is taken care of by her elder sister and relatives. But when it comes to such a serious disease, the family can't afford the treatment and we're glad to help," said Hu.
Officially, China has more than 570,000 orphans. However, the actual number is believed to be much higher, as those living in remote areas or who have relocated to cities with migrant worker relatives may not be counted.
"We still have a long way to go," said Hu, adding there is hope for more funding from a growing number of small donors who give to the charity program via online payment platforms. Previously, donations were mainly from large enterprises.
Nearly 80 percent of donations last year came from online charity donation platforms, and CCIF has raised some 20 million yuan (3.03 million U.S. dollars) since 2009 through online fundraising, she said.
Donation information can be found online at baoxian.cctf.org.cn.