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On loan, city doctors raise level of care

By Aybek Askhar and Zhao Xinying | China Daily | Updated: 2019-04-02 09:14
Doctors from Urumqi, Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, offer free medical services in Pishan county of Hotan prefecture. [Photo provided to CHINA DAILY]

In a remote part of Xinjiang, a county hospital gets a professional makeover

In May last year, doctors told Awanisa Mahsut that she had a brain tumor.

After suffering a stroke, Awanisa, who lives in the southwestern part of the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, planned to go to Urumqi, the regional capital, for treatment, but she changed her mind when she heard there was an expert from Urumqi working at a local hospital.

Akbar Yalkun, 45, a neurosurgeon with more than 20 years' experience in Urumqi, gave Awanisa hope. One of 13 medics assigned to Pishan county, he provides medical support as part of an assistance program initiated by his home hospital in May.

The program aims to improve management and medical treatment at the smaller hospital by drawing on the experience of a team of doctors and administrators on loan from Urumqi.

"The treatment level of neurosurgery was quite low before I came. Few doctors can perform this kind of operation here," Akbar said. "If there are related conditions, patients generally need to be transferred to hospitals in big cities."

Awanisa's home - Pishan county - is one of the most impoverished and remote areas in Xinjiang. It lacks well-trained doctors, and the hospital doesn't have enough money to buy modern equipment. As a result, patients often find it difficult to get the care they need.

The poor medical service often means that seriously ill patients would rather spend more money and travel farther to Hotan or Urumqi to see a doctor, rather than receive treatment locally.

"One of my relatives told me that Dr Akbar, one of the best neurosurgeons in the region, is at the hospital in our county," Awanisa said. "I was relieved, not only because he was there, but also my insurance covered most of the treatment at the local hospital."

The operation was successful. At a follow-up consultation on March 1, Akbar told Awanisa she had fully recovered. The operation would have cost her at least 40,000 yuan ($6,000) in Urumqi, but she spent less than 10,000 yuan in her hometown.

In March last year, after investigating the Pishan county hospital, Manglek Syit, vice-chairman of the autonomous region, ordered the hospital in Urumqi to improve the healthcare situation in Pishan county.

"Before we came here, it could not be called a modern hospital. You could hardly tell the difference between the outpatient and inpatient departments," said Yerzat Yerzhan, an administrative staff member of the team. "To provide an effective healthcare system, the hospital needed to change from its registration office up."

The regional health commission arranged for the hospital in Urumqi to launch a program giving all-around help to Pishan county. Bahtiyar Kerem, a specialist in critical care, was one of the first doctors to arrive.

"Our team members normally live and work in Urumqi, but after learning about the medical conditions here, we came without hesitation," he said.

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