Chinese doctors assist in PNG health crisis
Port Moresby: “We will risk our lives to help them,” said Chinese Doctor Zhang Jinsong. Speaking about the local patients in Papua New Guinea, Dr Zhang is the leader of the latest two-year rotation of China’s medical team providing assistance to PNG’s health system. This was forged under a bilateral agreement signed in 2002. The move marked the first time China had sent a medical team of its kind to the Pacific, a sign of the strengthening ties between the two nations.
“One of our closest friends in the international community is the People’s Republic of China,” PNG Minister for National Events and APEC Justin Tkatchenko told an audience at the opening of the Chinese-built Port Moresby International Convention Centre, marking 40 years of bilateral relations.
Infrastructure and building projects are a booming part of Chinese-PNG cooperation, but the development of the health sector continues to form the bedrock of the relationship. PNG has one of the poorest and least equipped health systems in the world, with only one doctor per 17,068 people, making it highly susceptible to epidemics.
Currently, PNG is battling HIV/AIDS, multi-drug resistant tuberculosis, typhoid, malaria and dengue, among other public health threats. Every morning, the Port Moresby General Hospital (POM Gen) deploys its specially equipped wiremeshed van to pick up the Chinese medical team assisting local doctors, only to return in the evening for further duties, such as treating Chinese citizens in the community who are ill.
“I treat about 20 inpatients every month, and receive 60 outpatients every week,” Dr Zhang said.
Patients in a Papua New Guinea health centre waiting to be treated.