China Appeal No. 01.66/2003 Programme Update No. 2

Appeal target: CHF 3,564,329 (USD 2,442,454 or EUR 2,422,114)
Period covered: June - November 2003

The Federation's mission is to improve the lives of vulnerable people by mobilising the power of humanity. It is the world's largest humanitarian organisation and its millions of volunteers are active in over 180 countries. For more information: www.ifrc.org

In Brief

Appeal coverage: 69 %.

Outstanding needs: CHF 1,143,409

Related Emergency or Annual Appeals: China Floods: Emergency Appeal (18/2003); Asia: Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) prevention and control (focus on China); East Asia annual appeal. Programme Summary: The second half of the year has been a period of considerable activity for the Red Cross Society of China (RCSC) and the Federation's regional delegation. A good deal of time has inevitably been taken up by the major flood relief operation with the flooding continuing on until the end of October in certain provinces. However in spite of this, good progress has been made in the programmes covered by the annual appeal for China. Of particular note has been the community water and sanitation programme in Guangxi and Hunan provinces which has come to be regarded as a successful model for RCSC rural health programming which could be further adapted to incorporate community disaster preparedness and disaster mitigation components. HIV/AIDS activities have continued with a new programme starting in two northern provinces supported by the Netherlands Red Cross. Lastly, RCSC has carried out a number of training seminars and workshops for the leadership and staff of its branches that are helping strengthen its overall capacity to plan and manage programmes that can address some of the key vulnerabilities facing China's population.

Operational developments

China remains highly prone to disasters. Sudden and/or slow onset disasters of small, medium or large scale are annual phenomena claiming thousands of lives, affecting at different degrees, hundreds of million people and causing economic losses and damages worth billions of US dollars each year. The most common of these is flood disasters. Floods between 1996 and 2003 affected a total of some 660 million people. While the number of deaths associated with floods in China is relatively low, the economic impact is staggering. During the second half of 2003, China experienced severe flooding in the period between June and October (see China floods operation updates for full details), four serious earthquakes, as well as typhoons and drought.

The Red Cross Society of China (RCSC) played a prominent role in addressing the SARS epidemic that struck China in mid year. It was one of only four organisations authorised by the government to receive funds for this purpose, and by July 2003 had raised over CHF 114 million in cash and kind donations from domestic and international sources. The Federation provided support to the national society not only through its international appeal but also by advising on public health information issues and fostering linkages with WHO and donor country embassies. There is definitely a good potential for RCSC to build on its SARS response to analyse and define what its role in the public health field should be in the years to come.

In the area of development cooperation, there are a growing number of participating national societies that are working with RCSC in health, disaster preparedness and more general capacity building programmes. After the end of the travel restrictions caused by SARS, RCSC carried out a number of workshops for its provincial staff and worked with PNS staff or delegates from Australia, Netherlands, Canada and Norway to review and make further plans for their respective programmes covering ten provinces. In addition, the Federation's regional delegation provided support to RCSC for its national leadership and financial management training programmes.

Health and care

Goal: The RCSC will contribute to the reduction of the transmission of HIV/AIDS in China and help to improve care and support for people living with HIV/AIDS and their families.

Objective: The abilities of the RCSC both at the headquarters and in provincial branches to de sign, implement, manage, and fund effective and sustainable HIV intervention has improved leading to the increased capacity of the youth in key provinces to protect themselves from HIV/AIDS infection.

Progress/achievements against expected results:

According to the latest statistics, the Ministry of Health estimates that there are one million people infected with HIV or living with AIDS in China. According to the UNAIDS, 45.3 per cent of HIV/AIDS cases are due to sharing needles among intravenous drug users (IDU), 26.9 per cent are former plasma donors, 13.8 per cent are attributed to sexual transmission, and 13.9 per cent remain unclassified. Almost half of reported HIV/AIDS infections are among young people under 29 years of age.

RCSC has nearly ten year's experience with HIV/AIDS prevention, through the collaboration between the Australian Red Cross and the Society's Yunnan and Xinjiang branches. Among the remaining 29 branches there is widely differing interest in adapting the Yunnan/Xinjiang model of youth peer education. Some branches accept that HIV/AIDS prevention and care is an integral part of the national society's mandate while others consider the HIV response to be the responsibility of the Health Department. In order to encourage all branches to collaborate in the local response, RCSC and Federation conceived a series of four day workshop to introduce basic information about HIV/AIDS and to raise awareness of Red Cross responsibility regarding HIV/AIDS prevention and care. One workshop was held (seven provinces attended) in March 2003 and a second (for eight provinces) will be held in December 2003.

Several PNS support RCSC in their HIV/AIDS response. During 2003, the Federation delegation provided training of facilitators for the Canadian Red Cross, assisted RCSC, Netherlands, and Swedish Red Cross to develop a proposal for European Union funding, participated in an exploratory mission to Kashgar (Xinjiang) with the Australian Red Cross, and assisted the Netherlands Red Cross to design and implement their project in Jilin and Liaoning provinces.

The RCSC and the Federation are both active members of the UNAIDS Expanded Theme Group, UN Theme Group on Health, and China's Country Coordinating Mechanism for the Global Fund on HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria. Federation participated in the series of workshops, organized by Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government and Business School, entitled HIV/AIDS and Business in Africa and Asia.

SARS provided an opportunity for RCSC and the Federation to collaborate on public health education: with financial support from the Federations SARS emergency appeal, the RCSC in cooperation with the Federation produced a video on health and hygiene and distributed household hygiene kits.

RCSC remains committed to scaling up HIV/AIDS prevention and care (youth peer education and peer education by and for PLWHA and ensuring a safe blood supply) to all provinces in China. Training on recruiting and retaining voluntary non-remunerated blood donors is necessary for all provinces. Given the capacity of headquarters and provincial branches, however, the scaling up of Youth Peer Education will have to be incremental. Identifying priority provinces involves assessing both the HIV/AIDS incidence/prevalence and the interest and capacity of the branch to implement HIV/AIDS projects. Next year's goal is to implement youth peer education in two provinces, which will be identified during workshops to be held in December 2003.

While the RCSC focus is on skills building and in-depth knowledge of HIV/AIDS, raising the public's awareness is a necessary adjunct to help ensure acceptance of HIV prevention messages. RCSC headquarters and branches typically participate in World AIDS Day events around China and often add an HIV educational component to World Red Cross Day events. The RCSC is currently planning events, in Beijing, Shanghai, Qinghai, Hainan, and Jiangxi provinces, to mark World AIDS Day.

Impact:

The most significant development during this reporting period has been the start-up of the new HIV/AIDS programme in Liaoning and Jilin provinces. Whilst the impact of the programme cannot yet be assessed as it is still in its very early stages, it definitely represents a significant extension of the national coverage of RCSC's HIV/AIDS work and builds on the experience gained in the successful Yunnan and Xinjiang programmes. Furthermore, it serves as an example of how the Federation can provide its technical and programming expertise to help a PNS, in this case Netherlands Red Cross, initiate a programmatic partnership with RCSC.

The Federation's own support to RCSC, which is funded mainly by Swedish and British Red Cross, has helped identify which provinces have the most potential to develop their own HIV/AIDS activities and also some of the challenges that the society faces. It has also helped RCSC forge linkages with UNAIDS and other international organisations working on HIV/AIDS programmes in the country.

Constraints:

The unexpected appearance of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in April 2003 had serious consequences for the RCSC's and the Federation's HIV/AIDS programmes as all meetings and travel were banned and RCSC devoted their time and resources to China's SARS response. Despite the cessation of all HIV-related activities from April through July, however, progress was made toward the objectives of the 2003-2004 Appeal. In addition, collaboration was fostered between the Federation Delegation and PNS that support RCSC as well as with external organisations.

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