THE SINO-SWEDISH PROJECT
THE SINO-SWEDISH PROJECT ON
A meeting between the Ministers for Social Affairs of Sweden and China in 1992 led to a joint project on the issue of mental retardation. This was an understandable outcome considering the situation in both countries. During the modernization of China a greater attention is being given to persons with disability, in particular mental retardation. The lack of iodine in vast areas of China, and the mental retardation it causes, is still a considerable problem. Sweden, on the other hand, has a very good international reputation for its ways of preventing mental retardation as well as providing support to persons with mental retardation.
During the preparatory phase of the
project, 1992-1994, the partners involved in realizing the project were CDPF, China
Disabled Persons Federation, and Uppsala
University. CDPF is a semi-governmental and national organization which has the function
of safeguarding the rights of persons with a disability and, in some areas, to provide
project is financed by China contributing two thirds, one third from central Chinese
bodies, a second from local Chinese sources, while the third part comes from Sweden,
The project is unique in that it works with prevention
as well as development of services. Therefore it consists of three subprojects, all
related to each other. With a subproject on "Prevention of Iodine-deficiency related
Mental Retardation" strategies, methods and routines are developed to provide iodine
in salt and oil to key groups of the population, for example newly wed couples.
Professor Mehari Gebre-Medhin is responsible for this
project. The expert partner on the Chinese side is professor Chen Zhupei of the Endocrine
Research Institute of Tianjin Medical University.
The task of the third subproject,
"Rehabilitation Services", is to develop a programme, based on modern ideas and
standards, to provide support and services to pre-school children with mental retardation.
The corner-stone in this programme is a rehabilitation station, a platform for all support
to children with mental retardation. A number of stations are to be localized to cover the
project counties. The role of families is recognized in that they partly are being given
support to understand and to cope with the problem of mental retardation, but are also
given guidance to be able to train their own child in the home. Dr. Kent Ericsson
is responsible for this sub-project. Psychologist Patricia Ericsson contributes with expertise on issues concerning the
training programmes. The expert on the Chinese side is professor Xu Jiacheng of Chongqing
THE FIRST PHASE
A choice of areas where the project was to be carried out during the first
phase had, for understandable reasons, to be made. Therefore 14 counties, in 8 provinces, are
included in the project. This project area covers over 400 townships and 6.000 villages,
with a total population of 6.5 million. These are predominantly rural and poor areas of
China and are located mainly in the north-west of the country, and are recognized as those
with a high frequency of iodine-deficiency related mental retardation.
During the first phase much progress has been achieved. The exchange of experiences, know-how and knowledge between the project partners has been extensive. This has taken place with regard to CDPF and in relation to Chinese as well as Swedish experts in each of the three subprojects. On several occasions Chinese delegations have visited Sweden not only to work with the counterparts but also to visit Swedish services of relevance for the project. The Swedish partners have also visited China on a number of occasions, apart from project work, to participate in training programmes and site-visits.
In the three subproject areas staff have been trained for their tasks, information and educational material has been produced and distributed and early experiences have been followed up. The striking impression from this project is its magnitude. In the initial awareness programme on the importance of iodine deficiency in mental retardation 151.000 pamphlets were distributed and estimated to have reached over 700.000 people, while video material is purported to have been seen by 800.000!
Within the subproject on the prevention of iodine deficiency over 800.000 iodinized oil capsules were distributed within the first project period and over 100.000 children have been screened for mental retardation. By the end of this year over 60 new rehabilitation stations will have been established, their localization been based on the results of the screening programmes. Essential to these developments has been the training of staff in all three subprojects and in the project on rehabilitation services even training programmes for the families of children with mental retardation. During the process of the project the necessary teaching materials and equipment have been developed and distributed.