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Volunteer groups aid medical staff in countryside

By WANG XIAOYU | China Daily | Updated: 2024-04-24 10:13
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A key focus of China's healthcare sector this year is to dispatch senior medical professionals in urban areas to the countryside and strengthen support for primary health clinics, the National Health Commission said during a recent news conference.

Mi Feng, a spokesman for the commission, said that over the years, China has continuously channeled quality medical resources to grassroots facilities, improving their infrastructure and services and enhancing the training of local healthcare workers.

Last year, the proportion of medical visits at primary healthcare institutions nationwide reached 52 percent, he said during a news conference held in Xichang, Sichuan province, last month.

Mi said that this year, the commission will focus on mobilizing medical personnel to grassroots institutions, stepping up the coordination of healthcare facilities in rural areas and encouraging urban hospitals to support lower-level facilities.

As part of efforts to beef up grassroots healthcare, the commission has been calling on renowned medical professionals to offer volunteer services to less-developed regions since 2018.

In February of last year, a volunteer service corps was officially launched by the commission.

Mi said that several squads have been established over the years, including a team dedicated to preventing myopia among young children and teenagers and a group focusing on spreading awareness. Local authorities have also launched regional volunteer corps.

Zhou Fude, a kidney disease specialist from Peking University First Hospital in Beijing, has participated in 13 volunteer events organized by the commission.

"Over the years, I have witnessed the upgrade of infrastructure and equipment at grassroots facilities and the growing health awareness of rural residents," he said.

"However, some challenges remain, including the fact that local medical workers lack clinical experience to treat complicated kidney diseases as well as knowledge of advanced treatment tools," he added.

While striving to address medical issues through face-to-face consultations with local residents, Zhou said that he also connected with local doctors at the volunteer events.

"We can arrange for rural doctors to pursue studies at my hospital in Beijing, facilitate the transfer of serious and complex cases to larger hospitals and use video conferences to offer remote diagnoses and treatments," he said.

Hu Bin, a doctor at the First Hospital of Liangshan, followed Wang Wentao, a liver surgeon from Sichuan University's West China Hospital and a volunteer doctor, throughout the event held in Liangshan Yi autonomous prefecture in Sichuan, helping Wang communicate with local patients and observing his work.

"What struck me the most was how Wang not only focused on giving accurate diagnoses and targeted treatment protocols while seeing patients, but also emphasized spreading health knowledge among residents and helping them nurture healthy lifestyles," he said.

"He was very patient in persuading patients to undergo regular health checkups, take note of early signs of hepatitis B and begin treatment as early as possible for better outcomes," he said. "I think I can improve my skills in promoting health awareness in the future."

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