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Chinese medics set to return from Sierra Leone

By Xin Wen | | Updated: 2017-06-06 15:17
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The 18th group of Chinese medical aid workers sent to Sierra Leone are preparing to return after more than a year on assignment, according to Changsha Evening News.

When the nine-strong team from Hunan province arrived at the China-Sierra Leone Friendship Hospital in February last year, their aim was to help it become the best in West Africa.

"Such a task is easier said than done," said Teng Chaoyu, leader of the team and dean of the hospital, which is in the western town of Jui.

He said when the team arrived, there was only one local doctor on staff, the institute had a critical shortage of medicine, the dormitory was dirty, and there was a lack of potable water. The team has worked hard to improve conditions, he added.

Qiu Yu, a medic from Hunan Children's Hospital, has treated about 5,000 infants and children over the past year.

One of the children he saved is a 7-year-old boy who was originally admitted to a children's hospital in Sierra Leone with a fever and cramps. A British doctor from Doctors Without Borders had incorrectly diagnosed the boy with viral meningitis, and the treatment provided was ineffective.

However, Qiu found a small wound on the sole of the child's foot and was told by the boy's uncle he had stood on a nail. He was able to correctly diagnose tetanus and provide a detailed treatment plan.

Two weeks later, the boy had recovered and was discharged from the hospital.

The Hunan team have also helped improve the knowledge of local workers at the China-Sierra Leone Friendship Hospital.

There are only two registered anesthetists in Sierra Leone, so all anesthesia work is done by the hospital's nurses.

"Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime," said Zou Zhihong, an anesthetist from Changsha Hospital of Traditional Chinese Medicine, repeating an old maxim.

He has spent much of his time in Sierra Leone teaching about anesthesia and, like all the medics from Hunan, learned English to help train African health professionals.

On May 9, the Chinese team visited a Creole community to offer free checkups and provide health education, treating 314 patients.

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