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Peace Ark brings Fiji free treatment

China Daily | Updated: 2018-08-10 10:48

Doctors from China's hospital ship treat 6,500 patients on goodwill visit

Shi Shengwei, a Chinese military doctor, checks the eyes of local residents in Vatulele, Fiji, on Tuesday. [Photo/Xinhua]

SUVA, Fiji - A team from the visiting Chinese naval hospital ship Peace Ark brought free medical services to the residents of Vatulele, an island more than 100 kilometers away from Fiji's capital Suva.

As of Wednesday, the ship, which arrived at Vatulele on Aug 2 for an eight-day goodwill visit, has treated more than 6,500 patients, providing everything from basic consultations to surgical procedures.

"It was really unexpected when the Chinese military doctors landed from the sky," said Ratu, a tribal chief on Vatulele, after the team landed in a naval helicopter on a school playground.

"When it was learnt that our government was coordinating for the Chinese doctors to deliver medical services to the island, the villagers expected much they normally do in a festival."

Liu Di, the deputy commander of Mission Harmony - 2018 and leader of the 10-member medical team, said the medical facilities on the island were basic.

"It took about 5 minutes to walk from the landing site to the local health center. There are four simple rooms where almost no medical facilities are available."

The medical team used portable equipment for ultrasound and electrocardiograms (ECG) and deployed specialists in ophthalmology, dentistry, orthopedics, internal medicine and surgery to offer the most needed services.

Ratu said there are four villages on the island and there is only one health center with only one doctor and one nurse.

After the arrival of the Chinese doctors, center became very busy. Local doctor Filomena joined the medical team members in preparing the consultation and treatment site.

Traditional gratitude

Salote, a 57-year-old islander who suffered from diabetes for years, recently had a problem with a tooth, which was painful and needed to be extracted. The local doctor had no way to deal with it due to the patient's excessively high blood glucose.

When he learnt that the Chinese doctors were offering free treatment, he came to the health center early in the morning. After an examination, Chen Tielou, a dentist from Peace Ark, was able to regulate Salote's blood sugar levels with injections and extract the tooth.

"Thank God, this is the most precious gift," said Salote, who took his tooth with him when he left the health center as a memento.

Vasenai, a 63-year-old farmer, walks with difficulty due to osteoarthritis and his daily life is severely affected.

"The Chinese military doctors are really good," Vasenai said after collecting his free medicine.

The team also treated islanders with vision problems, with cataracts a particular issue among the islanders. Torsi, 34, was attended by Shi Sheng, an ophthalmologist. While surgery was unnecessary, Torsi was fitted with special glasses.

To express their appreciation, some islanders gave fruit, presented notes of thanks and others embraced the doctors - a traditional expression of gratitude - and took photos with them.

After the team left on the helicopter, Ratu said: "Peace Ark is really appreciated and China is really appreciated. You are welcome to Vatulele forever."

Fiji is the third stop on the Peace Ark's current mission and it is the second time the ship has visited the South Pacific Island nation after its first visit four years ago.


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