Number of Orphans in China Climbs 24% since 2005

02/06/2011 - A new report, jointly launched by several institutions, states that the number of orphans living on mainland China has risen by almost a quarter over the past five years.

A new report published in China found that the number of orphans in the country has increased by 24% over the past five years.

In 2010, the total number of orphans living on mainland China was 712,000 –  a 24% increase over the 2005 total of 574,000.

This trend was observed in the 2011 China Children Welfare Policy Report. The report was launched just two days before the conclusion of China’s second annual National Child Welfare Week (held May from May 30th to June 4th every year). The report was launched by China’s Ministry of Civil Affairs, the One Foundation Philanthropy Research Institute at Beijing Normal University and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

Other segments of vulnerable children were also addressed in the report. At the end of 2008, researchers found, there were more than 5 million disabled children under the age of 17. Another 58 million children have been classified as “left behind” – missing out on key opportunities and services. As the AIDS pandemic spreads into China, the number of HIV-/AIDS-affected children is expected to jump to 894,000 as of the end of last year. This would represent a 55.5% increase in only a couple of years.

In 2009, an estimated 0.1% of the population was living with HIV or AIDS in China – about 650,000 to 740,000 people aged 15-49. Despite the fact that half of new infections are among young people, HIV is still regarded as a problem for adults only, leaving young people without the knowledge they need to protect themselves from the disease. In 2005, 1,100 babies  were infected by their mothers. In 2002, an estimated 76,000 children were AIDS orphans thought to have lost one or both of their parents to AIDS-related illnesses. 

According to UNICEF, China’s campaign to contain the effect of HIV/AIDS ON children focuses on five critical aspects of prevention and treatment:

  1. Prevention of mother-to-child-transmission,
  2. Paediatric Care and Treatment,
  3. Protection of children orphaned or affected by AIDS,
  4. Prevention among vulnerable and high-risk young people, and
  5. Partnerships for, and with, youth.

Among the report’s recommendations is the investment of the Chinese government in the medical treatment, living expenses, and early-childhood education of needy children. An estimated US$2.6 billion would cover the costs of providing these vital services. Local governments should share in some of these expenses to improve service delivery.