China has made incredible strides in providing access to healthcare over the last ten years. Almost all villages are now within a day’s travel from a health clinic. The continuing challenge is that low levels of education and health knowledge in rural villages mean villagers do not access those health services when it is necessary. Treatable illnesses often become lifelong disabilities or chronic diseases. In addition, villagers in rural areas have difficulty accessing sanitation facilities, clean drinking water, and basic health information. This contributes to high incidence of disease, especially life-threatening diarrhea in children. 48% of the rural population does not use improved sanitation facilities, and 15% of children under the age of 5 have moderate-to-severe stunting due to poor nutrition (UNICEF).
Since 2005, CWEF has been addressing health awareness among rural communities in three primary ways. The first is through providing villages with clean drinking water systems. The second is through the establishment of the Healthy Schools program that partners with rural schools to integrate health & hygiene education into their standard curriculum and practice. The third is through community health education that equips village adults to disseminate health education in their communities. In addition to these three ways, CWEF partners with local communities to improve household health by constructing biogas systems. We also provide health assessments to help raise awareness of health conditions that should be taken seriously and examined by a trained health worker.
Health improvement and economic improvement go hand-in-hand. Improved health keeps children in school and adults able to work. Economic improvement provides the resources that enable families to keep their children in school and travel to county-level health clinics to receive necessary life-saving care. Starting in 2011, CWEF has been bringing our diverse health and community development programs together to implement different focuses in each community we serve based on that community’s unique needs.