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Doctors touch hearts of rural communities in Uganda through free health services

China Daily | Updated: 2023-02-25 09:54
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MUKONO, Uganda — Dozens of people at the Katosi landing site in the Central Region district of Mukono lined up to get free medical care provided by a visiting Chinese medical team from the Ugandan capital of Kampala.

The medical camp, which ended on Feb 17, pulled crowds from its landing site on the shores of Lake Victoria and surrounding areas.

Muhammed Musisi, a patient, says that the free medical camp was a rare occurrence and that it would save on meager resources that did not have to be spent at private clinics.

Patients with ailments visited the tent where Chinese doctors of different specialties were stationed. Mangeri Akirapa lined up with his 11-year-old son, who had an ear infection for three years. A Chinese ear, nose and throat specialist cleaned the boy's ears with medical instruments.

"I took my son to different hospitals, but there was no success. Here, they just cleaned the ears, and my son said he was feeling much better," Akirapa says.

Several patients were given health counseling, while others were asked to visit hospitals for further examination.

The medical camp aimed at boosting healthcare in remote areas. The medical team, in their white gowns, left their workstation, the China-Uganda Friendship Hospital in Kampala, to camp out at Katosi.

The team consists of seven physicians and surgeons, specializing in gastroenterology, urology, infectious diseases, otolaryngology, anesthesiology, and traditional Chinese medicine, among other fields.

The camp was held in commemoration of the 40th anniversary of the deployment of the first Chinese medical team to Uganda, which arrived in 1983. Since then, a total of 229 doctors and experts from China have provided medical services to local communities in Uganda, according to Chinese embassy figures.

Guo Zhiping, head of the 22nd Chinese medical team to Uganda, says at the camp that they are introducing a Chinese practice where medical experts from developed urban areas go to remote villages to extend health services.

"Since we are doctors from China, we want to bring this tradition to the Ugandan people. We will give them physical examinations and health advice," Guo says shortly before the medical camp began.

"This way, we can improve the health awareness of local people," she adds.

Guo says working with Ugandan counterparts has been mutually beneficial, involving knowledge and skills transfer.

"We both benefit a lot from this process, and it is good cooperation between us," she adds.

Local officials around Katosi praised the Chinese medical team for holding the camp in their area, noting that access to free health care is important, especially for low-income earners.

The Chinese Chamber of Commerce in Uganda also donated mosquito nets for the officials to distribute.

Jiang Jiqing, economic and commercial counselor to the Chinese embassy in Uganda, shed further light on China's efforts to send medical teams to boost healthcare provision over the last four decades.

She noted that in 2012, China provided a grant to set up a China-Uganda Friendship Hospital with 100 sickbeds.

There, the Chinese team works with its Ugandan counterparts to perform surgeries and deliver other medical services.

"We are also doing joint research and delivering training programs from time to time," Jiang adds.




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