Strategic observation

Chinese doctor's bond with Africa

2018-09-05 22:15:10 (Beijing Time)


WUHAN, Sept. 5 (Xinhua) -- Shen Ali started his training Tuesday before he heads for his second medical assistance mission to Algeria.

The 38-year-old anesthesiologist has joined the 26th medical team to the north African country from central China's Hubei Province. In the next six months, he will take courses on the local language, customs and medical practices.

More than a year ago, Shen was busy rushing between operating tables day in and day out with his African colleagues during his first medical mission to Algeria.

"I miss those days. Although the workload was heavy, our efforts made a difference," said Shen from the city of Yingcheng.

Shen said his grandfather, who used to work in Algeria with a Chinese medical aid group in 1978, chose the name "Ali" for him because it is the abbreviation of Algeria in Chinese, foretelling his bond with the country.

"My grandfather had a close bond with Algeria that triggered my affection for the country," said Shen.

In early 1963, China became the first country to respond to Algeria's call for emergency relief from the international community. A team of 24 Chinese medical workers, mostly from Hubei, was set up and hastened to the newly independent state.

Since then, China has sent medical aid teams to dozens of countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America, Europe and Oceania.

"In the past 55 years, Hubei alone has sent over 3,000 medical workers overseas, treating about 2.2 million in-patients and performing nearly 1.66 million operations," said Zou Xia, an official with the Health and Family Planning Commission of Hubei Province.

In the 1980s, many Algerians chose the name "Chinois" for their babies. It's the French transliteration of the word "Chinese." In this way, parents of these newborns expressed their gratitude to the Chinese medical workers coming from afar, said Zou.

Shen's uncle joined medical teams in Algeria five times as a chef. "I've always wanted to go back to Algeria if my health allows. I'm impressed by the bond between the people of the two countries," said the retiree.

Back in 2015, Shen was shocked by what he saw when he first arrived in Algeria. "There were only two operating rooms in the maternity hospital I worked for, hardly enough to accommodate over 20 operations each day," Shen recalled. His Algerian counterparts were overloaded with long lines of patients. "I wanted to try my best to relive their pressure," Shen said.

During his two years in Algeria, Shen provided anesthesia for over 3,000 surgeries in addition to helping train local nurses in anesthesia.

Shen said he could always feel the locals' deep appreciation for the doctors' work. "Wherever we went, we would hear 'thanks,'" he said.

Once he and his colleagues rescued a patient from severe conditions, and the patient's family later brought local cuisine to the hospital to express their gratitude, he recalled.

Hubei health authorities will continue to push forward medical cooperation with Algeria regarding gynecology and obstetrics.

"Next spring, I will again set foot on Africa. I will remember my grandfather's words to go to where I am most needed as a doctor," Shen said.