An­cient cures for a new na­tion

China Daily (Canada) - - PEOPLE -

Gong Yi­dong

Lukudu said it is still dif­fi­cult for him to raise his right arm as high as he would like, but he is feel­ing bet­ter af­ter a cou­ple of ses­sions.

How­ever, it is not easy to dis­sem­i­nate TCM knowl­edge to South Su­danese pa­tients, Ding said.

Although South Su­dan is rich in tra­di­tional medic­i­nal plants, con­ven­tional bio­med­i­cal treat­ment still dom­i­nates at hos­pi­tals and clin­ics, leav­ing lim­ited space for al­ter­na­tive treat­ments.

For many, TCM or acupunc­ture is some­thing un­heard of or as­so­ci­ated with pain. Even for those who have at­tended a med­i­cal school, acupunc­ture is not con­sid­ered a pri­mary med­i­cal ap­proach by physi­cians.

Onge re­called his days at Mak­erere Univer­sity Med­i­cal School in Kam­pala, when Chi­nese acupunc­ture was briefly men­tioned by a Swedish lec­turer in class.

Onge was trained as an oc­cu­pa­tional ther­a­pist with six years’ pro­fes­sional ex­pe­ri­ence in phys­io­ther­apy. But af­ter hav­ing wit­nessed with his own eyes the im­prove­ment of pa­tients treated by Ding, Onge said he is con­vinced of the ef­fec­tive­ness of acupunc­ture, es­pe­cially its pain-re­liev­ing ef­fects.

Acupunc­ture and mox­i­bus­tion are also cost-ef­fec­tive and re­source-friendly, Onge said.

Like all the gov­ern­men­tal or­ga­ni­za­tions and busi­nesses af­fected by South Su­dan’s power short­ages, Juba Teach­ing Hos­pi­tal ex­pe­ri­ences re­peated power out­rages day and night, mak­ing it barely pos­si­ble to use elec­tronic phys­io­ther­apy equip­ment like in­frared rays. In these cases, mox­i­bus­tion can ef­fec­tively serve as a source of heat.

“This is a way of think­ing,” Onge said.

In March, Onge started to ob­serve and as­sist in Ding’s clin­i­cal prac­tice. Un­der the sys­tem of ap­pren­tice­ship in tra­di­tional crit­i­cal Chi­nese medicine, Ding be­came Onge’s shifu (teacher) and im­parted knowl­edge and skills.

Later, a cou­ple of in­terns from St. Mary’s Med­i­cal School also joined in. Un­der Ding, they stud­ied the ba­sic the­ory be­hind acupunc­ture and mox­i­bus­tion, such as jingluo (chan­nels and col­lat­er­als) and yinyang (pos­i­tive en­ergy and neg­a­tive en­ergy).

They also learned how to ap­ply nee­dles to spe­cific sites where qi (vi­tal en­ergy) and blood are trans­ported to the body’s sur­face.

“It re­sem­bles run­ning wa­ter. If you stim­u­late the nerves, qi and blood will travel smoothly in the chan­nel sys­tems of the body, reach­ing a state where yin is bal­anced and yang is firm, and a co­or­di­nated spirit is guar­an­teed,” Ding said.

The ef­forts have paid off. Onge has suc­cess­fully treated a pa­tient with se­vere back pain by in­te­grat­ing mus­cle ex­er­cise with Chi­nese acupunc­ture. The pain had dis­ap­peared by the time the pa­tient com­pleted nine ses­sions.

Still, more work and time is needed be­fore acupunc­ture is widely ac­cepted by South Su­danese pa­tients.

Su Guip­ing, head of the Chi­nese med­i­cal team, said he hopes to se­cure an in­de­pen­dent treat­ment room on the premises of Juba Teach­ing Hos­pi­tal so more needy pa­tients can have ac­cess to acupunc­ture and mox­i­bus­tion.

Ding also notes that phys­i­cal treat­ment also in­volves men­tal care. Ding said he ob­serves Hip­pocrates’ oath “to cure some­times, to treat of­ten and to com­fort al­ways” as part of his med­i­cal ethics.

“South Su­dan has been rav­aged by civil wars for too long. You need to go be­yond dis­eases and treat the pa­tients with dig­nity, care and re­spect. This is an in­valu­able les­son of tra­di­tional Chi­nese medicine.”

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