Restoring health and hope in rural China

By Liu Zhihua ( China Daily ) Updated: 2014-07-19 09:07:42

Restoring health and hope in rural China

Hong Kong orthopedics surgeon Leung Ping-chung visits Fuping county, Shaanxi province, for his charity program. Yuan Jingzhi / For China Daily

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Leung Ping-chung, 73, an eminent orthopedics surgeon, and emeritus professor with the Chinese University of Hong Kong, raises funds to help people from China's underdeveloped rural areas to meet their medical requirements.

In 1993, when Leung was already a successful orthopedic surgeon, he initiated a charity program for poor patients in remote parts of the Chinese mainland. During the past few decades, Leung witnessed many patients suffer due to lack of treatment.

According to him, most doctors are in the profession to heal people, but the reason he chose to especially assist rural people on the mainland is because such places had limited access to quality medical care compared to urban centers.

"The healthcare system in rural areas lagged far behind cities. Most doctors and nurses are poorly trained, and hospitals and clinics badly equipped," Leung says.

His charity program, Operation Concern, comprises a team of orthopedic surgeons, nurses, rehabilitation technicians and physiotherapists from Hong Kong, all of whom volunteer to offer free services to people with orthopedic problems in the mainland's poorer areas.

Their services include surgeries, nursing and physical training. They also provide rehabilitation tools. The first service center that Leung's team established was in Sichuan province's Dayi county in 1993.

Over the years, the team has visited many villages to provide free healthcare, he says.

Operation Concern also provides doctors and nurses with on-site training at local hospitals where camps are held, while patients can avail of surgeries and inpatient treatment. The program gives hospitals about 3,000 yuan ($484) for the use of its facilities and personnel for every inpatient covered by his program.

Leung says he clearly remembers certain common scenes from the 1990s in rural China. Thousands of patients with different health issues would gather at a designated site for free treatment the moment they learned of his team's arrival at a particular place.

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