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In a first for Eritrea, Chinese medical team brings relief for spinal patients

By EDITH MUTETHYA in Nairobi, Kenya | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2022-12-14 10:06
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A team of Chinese medical doctors is putting smiles on the faces of Eritreans who have been grappling with spinal cord problems.

Together with Eritrean doctors, the team from Henan province is performing spine surgeries at Halibet and Orotta National Referral hospitals in the capital Asmara.

Luul Bayterga, medical director of Halibet Hospital, said this is the first time that spine surgeries are being performed in the Horn of Africa country.

In a statement published by the Eritrean Ministry of Information on Sunday, five patients have successfully undergone the spine surgeries and many others are expected to undergo the same surgical procedures.

Patients have expressed their gratitude for the opportunity to receive treatment and hope that the program will continue.

Bayterga said establishing such treatment at the hospital has given locals with spine problems some respite.

Solomon Tsegay, bone and muscle surgeon at Halibet Hospital, said that in addition to extending medical support, the Chinese team has also been sharing knowledge with their Eritrean counterparts.

The 18-member medical team comprises doctors and nurses from major hospitals in Central China's Henan province, including the Second Affiliated Hospital of Zhengzhou University and Henan Provincial Orthopedic Hospital.

Lack of equipment

Although spine surgeries have been routinely carried out across China, they had not been carried out in Eritrea previously due to many reasons such as the lack of surgery equipment, the Henan Provincial Health Commission said.

One of the patients that have undergone surgery is a 55-year-old man who has a serious slipped disk and other spinal diseases, the commission said. His pain has been largely relieved after a successful surgery.

To ensure successful surgeries, the medical team had necessary medical equipment sent to Halibet Hospital from China.

Eritrea's Ministry of Health has also attached high importance to performing the spine surgeries and provided assistance, the commission said.

China has been sending medical mission teams to Eritrea since 1997. In addition to the Horn of Africa countries, Chinese medical mission teams are present in many other developing countries.

Since 1963, when China sent its first medical mission team to Algeria, China has sent medical teams to 73 countries and regions to aid diagnosis and treatment of locals, benefiting hundreds of millions of people, said He Zhaohua, an official for international cooperation at China's National Health Commission, during a news conference in Beijing in September.

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