Medics sharing wealth of expertise in Africa

By Yuan Shenggao (China Daily)

Updated: 2022-07-15


A Cameroonian woman who operates an orphanage gives her thanks to a Chinese doctor for his help. [Photo by Xue Lin for China Daily]

For Hou Wei, the leader of a Chinese medical assistance team in Djibouti, working in the African country is quite different from his experience in his home province.

The team he leads is the 21st medical assistance team that China's Shanxi province has dispatched to Djibouti. They left Shanxi on Jan 5.

Hou is a doctor from a hospital in the city of Jinzhong. He said when he was in Jinzhong he would stay in the hospital almost the entire day taking care of patients.

But in Djibouti, he has to carry out various missions, including traveling extensively to offer services to patients, training local medics and purchasing equipment for the hospital he works with, Hou told China News Service.

He recalled one of the long-distance trips he made in March. An executive at a Chinese-funded enterprise about 100 kilometers away from Djibouti-ville, the nation's capital, reported an emergent case of one of its local employees.

The patient, who was suspected of having contracted malaria, developed severe allergic reactions one day after taking oral medication, including dizziness, sweating and an accelerated heart rate.

Hou and his colleagues visited the patient on location and decided to transfer him immediately to the hospital he works with. On the return trip, which took about two hours, Hou tried to stabilize the patient with the use of an automatic external defibrillator.

Further treatment at the hospital helped to cure the patient, who expressed his deep gratitude to Hou and his colleagues upon his departure.

Tian Yuan, general chief of the three medical assistance teams that Shanxi sent to the African countries of Djibouti, Cameroon and Togo, told China News Service that replenishing the local hospitals with new equipment and medicines is another important mission for the teams from Shanxi.

"We found a lack of medical equipment and medicines is the most common problem faced by African hospitals," Tian said. "To solve this problem, we have contacted Chinese suppliers to donate."

He said the response from Chinese suppliers has been swift and batches of equipment and medicines have already been sent to the hospitals in need.

Another mission of the Shanxi teams is to hold regular training classes for local medics.

"We taught them how to operate advanced medical devices, how to use digital technologies for diagnoses and how to conduct complicated surgery operations," Tian said. "We also shared with them our expertise from Shanxi and China, including acupuncture, moxibustion, cupping and other traditional Chinese therapies."

Since 1975, Shanxi has dispatched 64 teams and 1,356 medical workers to the African countries of Cameroon, Togo and Djibouti.

The teams have helped locals fight various diseases, including Ebola, malaria and hemorrhagic fever. The team members' professionalism and devotion have been widely recognized by locals and many of them have won various honorary titles from the governments of the three countries.

The Shanxi medical teams have been an important part of China's medical assistance to Africa since 1963, when the first medical teams were dispatched to the country.

Wu Jia contributed to this story.