On October 23, 2015, Vice President Zhang Zhihua and Dean Zhuang Guobo formally appointed HRA's Co-PI, Professor Linda Neuhauser, as Visiting Professor of Humanities and Social Sciences at Nanjing Youdian University in Nanjing, China. After the ceremony, Professor Neuhauser, HRA Special Advisor Eve Wen-Jing Lee, and Professor Sun Xiaoming (Nanjing Youdian University) presented a lecture on social determinants of health, participatory design and development of health and social programs. This appointment will strengthen research and teaching exchanges between UC Berkeley and Nanjing Youdian University.
For the past 3 years, HRA has partnered with the university and the city of Changzhou to develop the Changzhou Worker Wellness Project, an initiative supporting migrant factory workers who are not residents of the area. There are over 254 million migrants. The project uses participatory design methods to engage factory workers and managers, government officials, health and social service workers and other stakeholders to identify and address health and social issues that affect workers' lives. Typically, these workers have very low knowledge about health issues, including reproductive heath and infectious diseases like HIV/AIDS. They also have little understanding of their rights in the work place or community and how to access local services. As a result, they suffer proportionately high rates of depression, disease, unplanned pregnancies, abortions and other problems. Likewise, factories are also affected with high rates of absenteeism and turnover.
The project is operates in 15 factories. Workers and stakeholders developed novel ways to benefit workers:
• "wellness houses"--rooms in the factories that offer workers a place for education/raining, services, socialization, exercise and other activities
• the Changzhou worker wellness guide, a resource designed by and for workers with information to handle health and social issues and to access a broad range of city services
• a peer-to-peer training program in which seasoned workers help newly arrived workers
The project is primarily funded by the Chinese government and the factories. Other supporters include Pathfinder International, the Levi Strauss Foundation, The Asia Foundation, Oxfam and others.
Initial research shows positive results, including greatly increased worker knowledge and empowerment about managing issues in the factory and the city, reduced unplanned pregnancies and abortions, and improved worker access to services. This effort has also benefited factories by reducing worker absenteeism and turnover. In addition, the project has catalyzed important city-wide policy changes to benefit over 1 million local migrant workers and their families. The city plans to expand the project widely to other factories. Other regions in China have expressed interest in adapting the model in their areas.