China / Society

Earthquake medic calls for focus on care

By Li Yang ( Updated: 2016-03-23 09:21

Medics from Ya'an People's Hospital in southwest China's Sichuan province have taken part in five disaster rescue and relief efforts since the 7.8-magnitude Wenchuan earthquake of 2008, which killed nearly 70,000 and injured almost half a million more.

This experience has convinced Zhang Deming, a neurologist and the hospital's director, that the key to reconstructing earthquake-stricken areas and restoring residents' confidence lies in rebuilding industries and public services, especially medical care.

On April 20, 2013, a 7-magnitude quake hit Ya'an city, killing around 200 people and injuring more than 11,000.

"We classified the wounded according to how serious their injuries were, and treated the brain trauma casualties before the others. It is very important to save lives and reduce the disability rate," said Zhang, adding that following the Ya'an quake his doctors performed craniotomy operations on 72 patients, all of whom survived.

To ensure the hospital can respond quickly and efficiently to earthquakes and other disasters, its emergency treatment department has been enlarged and redesigned.

The rehabilitation department is also much larger now, Zhang said, to help the injured recover from their wounds, both physical and mental.

A helipad and a number of advanced medical facilities were also added after 2008 with funds from the central government and doctors and nurses now have more opportunities to receive professional training throughout the year.

But it remains difficult for hospitals in the earthquake-prone mountainous regions in the west of Sichuan to attract high-level doctors. Zhang said his pediatrics, gynecology and emergency treatment departments all had a "serious" lack of doctors, with fewer than 50 percent of the staff required.

As a deputy of the National People's Congress, China's top legislature, Zhang has suggested the government increase its subsidy to doctors working in remote poor regions.

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