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Charity money gives healthy help to poor elders in Beijing
By Li Jing (China Daily)
Updated: 2004-11-23 00:44

Impoverished elderly people in Beijing may get more medical help for minor illnesses.

Starting early next year, the Beijing Charity Association plans to issue 5,000 charity medical cards, each equivalent to 500 yuan (US$60), to the city's elderly living in poverty, said Shi Lei, an official of the association.

There are about 2 million people aged 60 or over living in Beijing and 28,000 of them live on basic government living allowances.

The municipal government has formulated a series of policies to provide financial aid to the impoverished elderly if they fall seriously ill.

However, government aid does not cover some light ailments that often result in medical expenses which can be a heavy financial burden.

As a result, many elderly people do not go see doctors if they get a minor illness and often do not stop diseases on time.

The charity medical cards are expected to help solve the problems of daily medical treatment for the elderly, to protect their interests in an all-round way, said Shi.

Besides aiding the impoverished elderly people, Shi said his association will carry out special charity programmes to help poor students, households suffering from disasters and the disabled next year.

Nearly 7,700 Beijing residents have benefited from social charities between January and October, association statistics released on Sunday show.

During the period, more than 20 million yuan (US$2.4 million) worth of donations, including cash, clothing, quilts and other articles, have been collected, said the association.

Most beneficiaries are disaster victims, people living in poverty-stricken areas, laid-off workers, orphans and other urban poor suffering from illness or lacking their children's schooling fees after receiving the government's basic living allowance.

For instance, 14 households in severe difficulties have received a total of nearly 330,000 yuan (US$40,000) of relief this year.

According to the association's method on social relief, impoverished households in Beijing can apply for at least 20,000 yuan (US$2,400) of relief if they are hit by natural and man-made disasters.

Cheng Liyan, deputy secretary-general of the association, said his association will make public its yearly income and expenses, cumulative inventory, expenses for charity projects and audit reports by the end of this year to receive public supervision.

Meanwhile, to let donors know where their contributions end up, the association has mapped out a system which requires the tracking of relief funds and goods and a regular check on their distribution and use, said Cheng.

Founded in 1993, the association is a legally registered not-for-profit organization that promotes public quality of life. The association has set up branches in 18 districts and countries of the city which cover the whole charity system of Beijing, said Cheng.

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