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Volunteers to retrace "Long March", providing free medical care
By Xin Dingding (China Daily)
Updated: 2004-10-11 22:55

A team of volunteers plans to retrace the Long March while providing free medical care for people along the way.

The team plans to start off next week from Yudu County, Jiangxi Province, and follow the route of the legendary 1934-35 cross-country trek by the Red Army.

Sponsored by the Central Committee of the Communist Youth League of China and the Ministry of Health, the goal of the programme is aimed to focus public attention on health issues in rural China.

The health situation in rural areas is often dire, said Zhang Chaoyang, a ministry of health official in charge of rural health. Equipment and service provided at some grassroots level clinics is often poor.

"Some clinics cannot even conduct a surgery as simple as removing an appendix," he said.

The team of medical volunteers will travel in six vehicles and spend two or three days at each of 46 villages in 24 towns of 10 provinces and regions between October and January.

"Volunteers will make diagnosis for free, give away common medicine, give public lectures, help train local doctors and nurses, and take medicine and medical equipment to grassroots level clinics," said Guo Ping, secretary-general of the trip's organizing committee, during a press conference yesterday in Beijing.

To date, 37 volunteers have signed up in East China's Shandong Province. More will be sought in Beijing and Shanghai.

The project is expected to cost between 4.5 million and 5 million yuan (US$542,000 to US$602,000), said Yu Baofa, who owns a medical company in Dongping County, East China's Shandong Province, and spearheaded the activity.

All the vehicles have been equipped with top-of-the-line but handy equipment and medicines valued at 800,000 yuan (US$96,000) have been prepared.

"We hope more people can join us and make contributions, whether in money, time or a few encouraging words," he said.

This year marks the 70th anniversary of the Long March, a 10,000-kilometre trek completed by the Red Army, which resulted in a relocation of the Communist Party's revolutionary base from southeast to northwest.

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