Support from outside giving way to better training within the region itself
Patients diagnosed in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region with a dangerous type of gallstone once had to travel to the capital, Urumqi, or even to another province, for treatment because of a shortage of specialists.
The costs involved meant that many sufferers simply soldiered on with a condition that, if left untreated, could result in a deadly infection.
Yet that all changed in 2015 when Uygur surgeon Memeturson Barat returned from a yearlong training program in Guangzhou, Guangdong province, which was organized as part of a central government effort to cultivate medical resources in Xinjiang.
“When medical treatment is available on your doorstep, it saves people so much trouble and tons of money,” said Barat, 32, who now specializes in digestive medicine at No 1 People’s Hospital in the border city of Kashgar.
A number of patients in the northwestern region with serious conditions have seen similar changes in recent years, according to Wang Junhua, deputy director of the training center at Xinjiang Women and Children’s Hospital.
“In remote parts of the region, the mortality rate for women during childbirth is higher than in cities because of the lack of medical staff and expertise. Most of the deaths are preventable,” she said.
People can get surgeries like esophageal foreign body extraction and EMR (a procedure to remove polyps in the digestive tract) from local doctors in Kashgar after more emphasis was placed on
We have been ... changing from getting blood transfusions to forming blood on our own.” Yin Yulin, deputy director of Xinjiang Health and Family Planning Commission
coaching local medical professionals through the Xinjiang health assistance program.
According to the National Health and Family Planning Commission, more than 10,000 professionals have received training through the program, which has paired hospitals in the region with those in major cities since 2012.
Over the period, some 3,300 medical trainers from other provinces have been sent to Xinjiang, and around 590 local professionals have studied outside the region.
The medical assistance program for Xinjiang kicked off more than two decades ago. Nearly 50,000 medical experts from around China have been sent to the region, but the lack of capable doctors and medical expertise is still one of the factors holding back Xinjiang’s health and medical progress, because when the experts leave conditions slide back to their original levels.
In 2011, the central government brought a new assistance program to Xinjiang. It requires 19 provinces, munic-
Li Lei contributed to this story.