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Macao doctors join team to provide aid
By Zhang Feng (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-01-03 00:44

Two doctors and a nurse from Macao arrived in Beijing yesterday afternoon to join a fourth Chinese medical team to leave for Southeast Asia.

This is the first time the Chinese mainland and Macao have sent a joint medical team to provide international aid, said Wang Liji, deputy director of the International Co-operation Department of the Ministry of Health.

The two male doctors and one female nurse from the Centre Hospital of Macao will go to Sri Lanka with 14 other Beijing doctors.

They will leave Beijing today or tomorrow.

The group is made up of seven experts on epidemics from the Beijing Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and seven surgeons from the Peking Union Medical College Hospital.

"I am still feeling nervous..." said Lee Shuk Han, an emergency aid nurse from Macao, at Beijing Capital International Airport, as she arrived.

But she said she was willing to go and help.

"I would be lying if I said my family members won't worry about me, but they all support me, along with lots of people in Macao," said Lei Wun Teng, a surgeon leading the three..

He said they had been vaccinated against possible infectious diseases, such as encephalitis, flu, and malaria, before they left Macao.

In Macao, people have shown great compassion for victims, said Li Siuping, another team doctor.

"Before we left for Beijing, we had a very difficult time buying drinks and food in the supermarket because it had all been bought by local residents to give away," said Li Siuping.

A third team China sent to Sri Lanka has begun working, Wang Liji said.

Two things must be done first by the epidemic experts when they arrive in Sri Lanka, said Shen Zhuang, an expert from the Beijing CDC.

The first is to test and disinfect the drinking water, the second is to disinfect sites where there are lots of dead.

Disease experts must immediately investigate and monitor the situation for possible outbreaks, and make suggestions to local authorities.

Much has been prepared, including tents and medicines, for people there and for themselves, Shen said.

All the doctors heading to Sri Lanka were carefully selected and are all experienced and energetic, said Liu Qian, president of the Peking Union Medical College Hospital.

Many have done epidemic disease control work after disasters, including the SARS epidemic in China, the big flood in 1998, and even during the aftermath of the big earthquake in China in the 1970s, said, Shen.

"My wife and children have become used to my risky travel to dangerous areas for epidemic control. It is my duty and is something I am proud to do it."

Another medical group of 20 experts is preparing to leave for Indonesia soon, Wang said.

That team will be made of experts from the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention and doctors from the Sino-Japan Friendship Hospital.

Up to 30 doctors in Hong Kong have signed up to participate in rescue operations.

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