When an only child dies, hope evaporates

Updated: 2014-04-10 07:17

By Shan Juan (China Daily)

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When an only child dies, hope evaporates

An elderly woman at a care home in Beibei, Chongqing. She is one of many bereaved parents in China who require both mental and financial help. PROVIDED TO CHINA DAILY

Subsidy discrepancies

A family planning official surnamed Sun in the Hedong district of Tianjin, which participates in the family planning association's project, said there are about 200 bereaved parent families locally.

However, the amount paid as a one-time subsidy varies from district to district within the municipality, which has provoked group protests for equal treatment, he noted.

"A uniform policy within the city would at least help to ensure that the work runs smoothly," Sun said.

People suffering serious physical or mental problems, the elderly and those facing economic hardship are given top priority, he added.

In 2013, Hedong paid a monthly allowance of 200 to 270 yuan to bereaved parents, providing the wife was 49 or older. "The reality is that the relatively rich get more subsidies. The central government should introduce policies and coordinate action to change the situation," Sun said.

Wang Haidong, director of the family planning and family development department at the National Health and Family Planning Commission, said the department is mulling national policies to better address the problem and provide improved care for bereaved parents.

According to Wang, more than 400,000 bereaved parents nationwide are covered by a special assistance program. Although he was unable to say precisely how many couples have lost their only child nationwide, some experts estimate the figure to be more than 2 million, and the commission's 2010 yearbook revealed that about 76,000 families on the Chinese mainland lose their only child each year.

"These people have contributed to the country's overall economic and social development by adhering to the family planning policy. Now, having lost their only child, they are encountering difficulties, so the government must lend a hand," he said.

Ding cited a November announcement that the family planning policy will be relaxed to allow some couples to have two children. "Things are improving. It's a good start, but we must not simply leave the past behind. Bereaved parents deserve consideration from the government," she said.

Contact the writer at shanjuan@chinadaily.com.cn


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