Chinese doctor safeguards people's health in The Gambia

Updated: Apr 3, 2024 Xinhua Print
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SHENYANG -- For Guo Quan, the leader of China's fourth batch of medical team sent to The Gambia, if given only one chance to go abroad, he would still choose Africa as his destination due to the urgent need for doctors like him among the people there.

Guo, a gynecologist at Shengjing Hospital of China Medical University, embarked on his mission in November 2020, after receiving an invitation from the government of the Republic of The Gambia. Alongside nine other doctors, he journeyed from Shenyang, northeast China's Liaoning Province, to engage in medical aid work in the African country.

Comprising members selected from eight provincial hospitals in Liaoning Province, the medical team boasted expertise in various fields including gynecology, general surgery, orthopedics, and more. Their aim was to build upon the successes of previous missions and continue providing much-needed medical assistance to The Gambia.

For a year and a half, Guo and his team dedicated themselves to saving lives at the Edward Francis Small Teaching Hospital (EFSTH) in Banjul, the capital of The Gambia. Despite working in the country's largest hospital, they faced significant challenges due to limited local medical resources, including outdated equipment and frequent shortages of essential supplies such as oxygen and blood. "Physicians could only rely on their experience, and surgeons had to make do when making incisions," Guo explained.

Nevertheless, Guo performed over 100 surgeries during his time in The Gambia, ranging from procedures such as a laparoscopy and hysteroscopy to laparotomy for malignant tumors.

Recalling his most memorable experience, Guo vividly described his first surgery in The Gambia in early December 2020, in which he successfully removed a patient's right adnexa and appendix under challenging conditions posed by dim lighting and limited equipment.

Their performance soon earned the respect of their Gambian colleagues, trust from local patients. Guo and other team members also ventured out in the middle of the night for emergency treatments, including treating fishermen with strangulated hernias on fishing boats at sea and performing emergency surgeries to save injured fingers.

"During my stay there, my phone number once became the emergency medical service for local people," said Guo.

In The Gambia, the Chinese medical team has become a symbol of Sino-Gambian friendship. Since 2017, Liaoning Province has sent six medical teams to The Gambia. The teams have performed high-risk surgeries, introduced advanced medical technologies, and filled gaps in local medical services.

Guo emphasized the mutual respect between the Chinese medical team and the people of The Gambia. Over the years, they have become well-known and trusted figures in the community, recognized by their white coats embroidered with the five-star red flag. The Gambian people know that they can rely on Chinese doctors when facing health issues.

During their assignment, the team completed 680 outpatient emergency visits, admitted 1,271 hospitalizations, performed 437 surgeries, conducted 68 cases of critical care resuscitation, administered traditional Chinese medicine acupuncture and moxibustion to 317 people, provided anesthesia to 229 cases, and performed radiography on 788 people without a single error or accident.

In addition to medical services, Chinese medical professionals have been instrumental in bringing medical knowledge and techniques to this African country. Guo said that every Chinese doctor has been mentoring 1 or 2 local young doctors, aiming to cultivate more local medical professionals capable of independent treatment.

Thanks to Guo and the team's efforts, local doctors have learned gynecological laparoscopic techniques and surgical skills. In 2022, local doctors conducted more than 30 small and medium-sized gynecological laparoscopic surgeries independently.

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