Liu Xian­grui re­ports from Ny­ingchi.

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - LIFE | PEO­PLE -

De­spite the heat, 79-year-old Yu­dron was among the hun­dreds of lo­cal res­i­dents that lined up out­side the lo­cal med­i­cal cen­ter in a re­mote town­ship in the Ti­bet au­ton­o­mous re­gion wait­ing for the chance to see vis­it­ing ex­perts from Bei­jing-based hos­pi­tals and med­i­cal in­sti­tu­tions.

The mem­bers of the vis­it­ing med­i­cal team were among 800 med­i­cal pro­fes­sion­als and vol­un­teers from Bei­jing that were vis­it­ing Ny­ingchi city as part of an an­nual nine-day char­ity pro­gram, called “China Hearts” that sends med­i­cal vol­un­teers to un­der­de­vel­oped and re­mote parts of China.

The med­i­cal team that ar­rived in Yuxu town­ship early in the morn­ing on July 9, com­prised 40 doc­tors and vol­un­teers, and they re­ceived nearly 800 pa­tients, mostly Ti­betans, in two days.

Ac­cord­ing to Yu­dron, the vil­lagers in the neigh­bor­hood were in­formed in ad­vance that there would be free clinic services. And they knew it was an op­por­tu­nity too good to miss.

“We were ex­cited about it, and came to join the line im­me­di­ately af­ter lunch,” says Yu­dron, who was given free medicines af­ter re­ceiv­ing her di­ag­no­sis.

“The doc­tors were very pro­fes­sional and pa­tient. I’m very sat­is­fied with the ser­vice I re­ceived.”

Yu­dron says she usu­ally vis­its the town­ship’s med­i­cal cen­ter, which is just 1 kilo­me­ter away from her vil­lage, if she has any med­i­cal prob­lems. But it can only han­dle small health prob­lems, as it is rel­a­tively poorly equipped and has no well-trained doc­tors.

Although the county hos­pi­tal has bet­ter med­i­cal fa­cil­i­ties and doc­tors, it is 70 km away in Bomi — more than two hours ride on the moun­tain roads, Yu­dron says.

Be­cause of this, she rarely vis­its the county hos­pi­tal and the small pri­vate clin­ics in Bomi county for her health prob­lems, in­clud­ing the prob­lem with her di­ges­tive sys­tem that has trou­bled her for nearly three decades.

“It’s a lot of trou­ble and more costly to go to hos­pi­tal in the county town. So we usu­ally go there to buy medicine only once in a while and take the medicine back to be treated at the town­ship med­i­cal cen­ter,” Yu­dron says.

Sev­eral of her fam­ily mem­bers, who are all farm­ers, have dif­fer­ent kinds of health prob­lems. The cost for medicines are still a bur­den for them de­spite fa­vor­able poli­cies that re­im­burse them to some ex­tent. The fam­ily spent more than 30,000 yuan ($4,410) on medicine last year.

The med­i­cal team vis­it­ing Yuxu also at­tracted many res­i­dents from vil­lages far away from the town­ship.

Tse­dro, 29, brought his mother on his mo­tor­bike from their vil­lage, which is nearly 40 km away.

“We were in­formed that ex­perts from Bei­jing would be hold­ing a free clinic in the town­ship, so we headed out early to catch it,” says Tse­dro. “The doc­tors checked us and gave us some medicines, plus some sug­ges­tions for the fu­ture. It’s help­ful.”

His mother has a liver dis­ease, and Tse­dro suf­fers from a stom­ach ill­ness.

Out­lin­ing the short­age of healthcare pro­fes­sion­als and fa­cil­i­ties in the area, Zhang Bin, di­rec­tor of Bomi county’s healthcare de­part­ment, ex­plains there are only three med­i­cal in­sti­tu­tions in Bomi, which have just 55 med­i­cal work­ers, while an­other 64 med­i­cal work­ers are di­vided among 11 town­ship-level health cen­ters in the county, which has a pop­u­la­tion of more than 30,000.

“We lack pro­fes­sional med­i­cal staff. Of­ten one per­son has to take on mul­ti­ple jobs,” ex­plains Zhang, adding that not only do they lack enough med­i­cal staff, they also lack in­fras­truc­ture in­vest­ment, med­i­cal fa­cil­i­ties and funds.

He praises the “China Hearts” pro­gram, say­ing: “Such char­i­ta­ble projects not only bring us good med­i­cal services, medicine and equip­ment, they also help train the lo­cal med­i­cal work­ers.”

Doc­tors spe­cial­iz­ing in 10 clin­i­cal ar­eas, such as car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­eases and gyne­col­ogy, were among the team that vis­ited Yuxu.

Ac­cord­ing to Hu San­bao, di­rec­tor of the de­part­ment of or­tho­pe­dics of Bei­jing’s Anzhen Hos­pi­tal, one of the vol­un­teer doc­tors who vis­ited Yuxu, res­i­dents in the re­gion com­monly suf­fer from such health prob­lems as rheuma­tism and arthri­tis, as a re­sult of the cli­mate and the lo­cals’ tra­di­tional liv­ing en­vi­ron­ment.

Un­der the China Hearts pro­gram, which was ini­ti­ated in 2008 by med­i­cal ex­perts and phi­lan­thropists in Bei­jing, health services are pro­vided to un­der­de­vel­oped and re­mote parts of China.

A com­mit­tee or­ga­nizes the pro­gram each year. So far, the or­ga­ni­za­tion has sent more than 20,000 vol­un­teers to pro­vide med­i­cal services to farm­ers and herds­men in var­i­ous re­gions, and the lo­cal healthcare fa­cil­i­ties re­ceive medicines.

In Ny­ingchi, medicines worth 8 mil­lion yuan were de­liv­ered to lo­cal hos­pi­tals and other med­i­cal in­sti­tu­tions.

As well, con­tri­bu­tions and do­na­tions worth over 200 mil­lion yuan have been given to the needy and nearly 10,000 lo­cal med­i­cal work­ers have re­ceived train­ing over the years thanks to the pro­gram.

It is es­ti­mated that more than 500,000 peo­ple have di­rectly ben­e­fited by the pro­gram in the past years, in­clud­ing nearly 1,000 chil­dren with con­gen­i­tal heart dis­ease, who have un­der­gone free surgery.

Con­tact the writer at li­ux­i­an­grui@ chi­nadaily.com.cn

PHO­TOS BY LIU XIAN­GRUI / CHINA DAILY

sends med­i­cal pro­fes­sion­als and vol­un­teers to Ny­ingchi, a re­mote and un­der­de­vel­oped area in the Ti­bet au­ton­o­mous re­gion. Doc­tors from Bei­jing of­fer free clinic services and medicine to lo­cal Ti­betans.

The char­ity pro­gram China Hearts

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