(April 2, 2008 – Hong Kong) The Li Ka-shing Foundation and the Ministry of Civil Affairs today jointly announced the launch of the first phase of Project New LifeVa nationwide cleft lip and palate program. The Foundation and the Ministry of Civil Affairs will each contribute RMB 50 million to establish this RMB 100 million transformative program. The program, which gives priority to impoverished children stricken by the disease, seeks to help patients suffering from cleft lips or palates, estimated to grow by more than 20,000 each year.
This is the nation’s first holistic program and comprises a well-rounded array of research, treatment, and rehabilitation components including:
1.Dedicated medical centers to be established at 20 top hospitals across the nation to provide free standardized surgical procedures to ensure quality
2.Speech therapy and psychological support to be offered following the surgery and promotion of education to preventive care
3.Research, conducted by Shantou University Medical College, to explore the genetic basis for cleft lips and palates. While cleft lips and palates are caused by many factors, genes play a large role.
The Ministry of Civil Affairs will give policy support and seek cooperation with other
ministries to promote health education and facilitate related research.
The Foundation and the Ministry of Civil Affairs regard Project New Life as a new model for high quality, standardized surgical procedure, speech therapy rehabilitation, public health education, and volunteer participation, bringing new hope and new life for cleft lip patients, particularly children from impoverished families. More importantly, through the work of the 20 high-quality hospitals nationwide and the critical research on the genetic causes of cleft lips and palates conducted at the Shantou University Medical College, we will gain a better understanding of the causes of the disease and find comprehensive solutions.
Applications to Project New Life will be available at local Civil Affairs offices. The program will offer qualified patients free surgery, speech training, and help to pay for travel to the hospital and accommodation costs for the patient and one accompanying guardian during the time the patient receives treatment. This will enable children living in remote regions to participate in the program. All projects sponsored by the Foundation, including Project New Life, are managed in accordance with international finance standards to ensure that limited resources are used to achieve maximum social benefit.
Mr. Li Ka-shing, Chairman of the Foundation, said, “This program is primarily for children who are stricken with this disease and their families. These children suffer emotional pain sometimes beyond any physical pain they experience, even though it is not a life-threatening illness. The greater purpose of this program is to help patients regain dignity and confidence, and be able to live happily and contribute to society. Care is the most important social perspective. To me, the significance of promoting a culture of giving is to help society recognize that even a small star shines in the darkness. If everyone pitches in and invests a little of ourselves and our resources, the multiplying effect will be great. More government policy support and better implementation will also contribute to more satisfactory results. By working together, we can bring about positive change.”
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