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Volunteer doctors offer free medical care in plateau region

Updated: Aug 23, 2022 Xinhua Print
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BEIJING -- For six days, a group of 32 doctors from China Medical Volunteers provided nearly 3,000 patients with free medical consultations and conducted 26 surgeries on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau.

During this healthcare campaign, the doctors trekked more than 1,000 km at an average altitude of over 4,000 meters.

"It is a totally different working environment, and adequate communication with the patients is of great importance, as every detail matters," said Ling Feng, head of the volunteer team, who is also the chief neurosurgeon at Xuanwu Hospital, Capital Medical University, in Beijing.

Ling's team began its medical care campaign in Yushu Tibetan autonomous prefecture, northwest China's Qinghai province, on Aug 6, with the first stop being Yushu's Nangqian county.

Nyzhong, 55, hailing from Baizha village, was the first to undergo knee replacement surgery that day. For years, Nyzhong only relied on medicines and acupuncture, which didn't help much in alleviating her pain.

After a thorough evaluation and preoperative preparation, the volunteer surgeons spent two hours performing the knee operation, bringing relief to Nyzhong from the pain that had plagued her for over two decades.

"Hip and knee joint problems are prevalent among the elderly in high altitude areas where local residents need to crouch or even kneel to milk cows," said Ma Liwu, a volunteer doctor, who is also the chief orthopedic physician at Xuzhou No 1 People's Hospital.

During the surgery, Ma asked the local doctors to stand by his side and explained every detail to them carefully.

"Local patients can benefit from the surgeries, but what is more important for us is to train doctors working at the primary level," Ma said. "Only when local doctors grasp the skills can the health of local residents be truly improved."

Another group of volunteer doctors camped near the Xiaoxiang health center in Nangqian County where a boarding primary school of more than 200 students is located.

Due to the high altitude and hypoxia, the incidence of congenital heart disease among children here is significantly higher than that in other parts of the country. The volunteer doctors decided to conduct physical examinations for students free of charge.

Six cases of congenital heart disease, three cases of myocarditis and seven cases of sinus tachycardia and sinus arrhythmia were detected among the students during the health checkup camp.

During their six-day campaign, the team also set up six expert workstations for volunteer doctors at the county level in Yushu and donated more than 2,200 boxes of medicines.

Founded in 2017, China Medical Volunteers aims to help vulnerable patients, support the construction of medical institutions in less developed areas, and promote medical aid work in foreign countries. To date, it has 5,000 medical staffers registered as volunteers.

"The healthcare awareness in plateau areas needs further improvement, especially among the women and children," said Nyima Denchou, head of the Yushu maternal and pediatric hospital. "The volunteer doctors have helped tackle the urgent needs of Tibetan people."

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