Working with Save the Children

By Anna Zhao, Executive Director

Working with Save the Children


United Family Healthcare has a rich history of providing access to healthcare for vulnerable population and donates medical service worthy of 1% of its annual revenue since 2001, to help those in medical need with focus on orphaned children and children in challenging situation through Beijing United Foundation for China’s Health (hereinafter the Foundation). ‘Healing brings hope’ is our vision.

Save the Children, established in the UK in 1919, is the world’s leading independent organization for children, with a staff of more than 25,000 people working in 125 countries. In China, it began to develop programs in Anhui Province, Yunnan Province and Tibet in the 1980s, and became one of the 24 overseas foundation representative offices registered with the Chinese Ministry of Civil Affairs in June 2013. In 2017, SC was registered as “Save the Children International (UK) Beijing Representative Office”, in accordance with the Law of the People’s Republic of China on the Administration of Activities of Overseas Non-Governmental Organizations within the Territory of China. So far, it has implemented programs on areas such as health, child welfare and protection, disaster relief, education and child rights advocacy in 12 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities in China. Its vision is to live in a world in which every child attains the right to survival, health, education, protection and participation.

Considering the shared value, SC and the Foundation signed a Memorandum of Understanding with focus on its health project in Sichuan province with the objective to enhance the clinical capacity of local medical staff in 2020.

In parallel, Save the Children Shanghai and Guangzhou teams are working with United Family Healthcare hospitals in the two regions on children at migrant schools children initiatives respectively.

Clinical Mentor Program with SC Sichuan Team

Upon the signing of the MoU in 2020, we launched the clinical mentor program in Sichuan. SC and the Foundation jointly organized a remote discussion and on-site visit for better understanding of the demand. Post these activities, we use Wechat group to maintain the interaction which is cost-effective. With the closing of the MoU, the clinical mentor program will conclude at the end of 2020.

The specific site from Sichuan province for this project is Xide County (喜德县), located in Liang Shan Zhou, which is one of the 832 registered extreme poverty counties across China. There are mixture of Han, Yi and Tibetan minorities.

Wechat conference to kick off

On July 2nd, we had an evening Wechat conference between Beijing, Chengdu and Xide County. This was co-organized by SC team physically based in Chengdu and the Foundation in Beijing. The objectives are

– To learn the clinical capacity and demand from Xide side;

-Mentor comment from Beijing side by Dr Peng, experienced clinical pediatrician as well as volunteer doctor to the Foundation;

-What to work together to proceed.

The following are the key points Xide in terms of its clinical capacity and comment from volunteer doctor in Beijing.

  • 1)Maternal and Child Health Care Hospital of Xide County (喜德县妇幼保健计划生育服务中心)

There are five healthcare professionals in the pediatric department including three assistance doctors and two nurses. We have 10 beds with 100 in-patients annually to accommodate children with common diseases. Those emergency and critical patients are normally transferred to higher level hospitals at first instance. We mainly focus on out-patient cases who catching cold, pneumonia and diarrhea. Due to the lack of clinical testing lab, it is hard to diagnose patients with evidence based clinical outcome but depending on individual experience. Therefore, we are hardly able to treat severe cases, which is constraint to our clinical capacity on diagnosis and treatment.

  • 2)Xide County People’s Hospital (喜德县人民医院)

This is a 2A hospital. The Department of Pediatrics established since 2007, coving the child healthcare (儿童保健) and medical treatment from newborn to older children for the whole county.

There are five doctors including two assistant doctors and 13 nurses with 27 beds. There are up to 2,000 in-patient every year with 98.5% recovery rate and less than 0.5 mortality rate. The medical expenditure cost and pharmaceutical ratio are well controlled according to government regulation.

We transfer severe newborn cases to higher level hospitals. We normally do not treat immunological and hematologic patients.

We have clinical testing lab for common diseases. However there are limited out-of-pocket items available so that we hardly gain revenue out of clinical testing.

Due to cost control reason (family hardly to afford), the length of stay are normally 4 days long. Such short stay also put constraint on our revenue growth.

We are overwhelmed by looking after both the IP and OP clinic simultaneously. We are more focus on medical treatment instead of child healthcare which is not our major task.

  • 3)Volunteer doctor in Beijing, by Dr. Peng

Pediatricians are actually playing a family medicine role for children therefore providing routine healthcare for children are the solid ground. Considering the Xide’s capacity on clinical provision, child healthcare could be the primary job for local doctors to reach out more pediatric population in Xide.

Evidence-based preventive medicines are the core mission of child healthcare. Lacking of clinical testing facilities should not be the major barrier for our evidence-based clinical diagnosis.

Clinical guideline for common diseases are useful to standardize a process of clinical diagnosis and treatments which also assure quality and patient safety.

On –site visit to learn the fact

In July, Dr. Peng joined a site trip to Xide County with SC team from Chengdu and Beijing join and visited the two county level hospitals above and a couple of township healthcare institutions.

Wrap up meeting for action

On August 10, SC and the Foundation jointly reviewed the findings and learnings. Given the briefing by both sides, we shared the following


-SC is an international NGO whilst the Foundation is a domestic NGO. We do share common value and could play complementary role to work in China;

-In terms of the health project in Sichuan, SC has a project team visiting pilot hospitals regularly. Additionally, this project is strongly supported by the local government as a flagship of health poverty alleviation campaign. Meanwhile, the Foundation are backup by the United Family Healthcare to provide clinical expertise;

-Specifically on the Xide health project, SC has achieved a great success in the area of antenatal care. As one of the outcomes, the local hospital delivery rate increased from 69% in 2017 to 79.2% in 2019. Moreover, the clinical expertise from United Family Healthcare will add in value to SC’s effort on pediatric area through the Foundation;

-The Foundation echoed SC and suggested to add in skill related training for the local pediatricians when designing the capacity building program. It may include First aid, CPR and AED for the local staff as these are immediate measures that could save newborn and children’s lives;

-SC and the Foundation both agreed to catch up on regular base for brainstorming and actions.


2021 Forward look with SC

SC is a trustworthy and professional organization with more than 100 years history.


The Foundation is happy to explore collaboration with Save the Children to help more children in China, especially from health & care perspectives. As a domestically registered philanthropy, we hope to work with SC as a foreign NGO in China and to explore complementary opportunities.