Urumqi, Aug.31: Twenty-one children from Afghanistan suffering from congenital heart disease arrived in Urumqi, capital of Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, on Wednesday to receive free surgical treatment under Belt and Road Initiative Humanitarian Program. The children, all under age 14, are the first to benefit from a humanitarian program for Afghan children with severe problems under the Belt and Road Initiative. The Red Cross Society of China will take groups of children who have been screened for surgery to receive free treatment.
Screenings were carried out by the Chinese Red Cross foreign aid medical team in Kabul, Afghanistan, in late August, according to team leader Sun Shuopeng.
In its first phase, the program is expected to provide free medical treatment for around 100 Afghan children, Sun said.
The Afghan Red Crescent Society estimates that nearly 7,000 Afghan children with congenital heart disease are in urgent need of treatment.
The program is funded by the Belt and Road Fraternity Fund, which was launched by the Red Cross Society of China in May, 2017. The fund aims to boost humanitarian activities and cooperation in countries involved in the Belt and Road Initiative.
Proposed by President Xi Jinping in 2013, the initiative is an umbrella term for the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road.
Humanitarian threats such as military conflicts, natural disasters and uneven socioeconomic development are common in Belt and Road regions, so local demand for humanitarian aid is immense, said Wang Ping, vice-president of the society.
With financial support from the fund, the society established an emergency care center in Pakistan's Gwadar Port in May, alongside its local counterpart, the Pakistan Red Crescent Society.
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