Medical relief abroad will improve: health authority

Updated: 2013-08-10 00:38

By Shan Juan (China Daily)

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China has sent more than 20,000 medical personnel to 66 countries and regions around the world over the past 50 years, according to the nation's top health authority.

This year, China marks the 50th anniversary of sending medical teams globally since the central government sent a medical team to Algeria in 1963.

Medical relief abroad will improve: health authority

A Chinese doctor demonstrates childbirth procedures in Liberia on May 6. China has sent more than 20,000 medical personnel to 66 countries and regions over the past 50 years. Gao Lei / Xinhua

Ren Minghui, director of the Department of International Cooperation under the National Health and Family Planning Commission, said the nation's long-term goal is to continually innovate and expand how it delivers aid to other countries.

"Medical workers from China have been sent to nearly all continents, mostly Africa, to help combat endemics and enhance public healthcare, which has played an important role in boosting friendships with other countries,"he said at a news conference on Friday.

China currently has around 1,200 medical workers at 123 stations in dozens of developing countries, including 42 countries in Africa, according to statistics from the National Health and Family Planning Commission. The majority of the workers, Ren said, are health professionals recruited from major hospitals across China.

He said 1,001 Chinese medics have been honored by foreign governments for their contributions to providing medical aid. Fifty medics, he added, have died in relief missions.

Kong Qingyu, vice-president of Beijing Anzhen Hospital, which specializes in cardiovascular diseases, said Chinese medical personnel have a "special"advantage compared to doctors from developed countries.

One example he cited was a one-year mission he undertook in Guinea in West Africa.

"Many (congenital heart disease) patients there were between the ages of 50 to 60 and the doctors from the United States hardly knew what to do with them because they only had experience with patients under the age of 5,"he said. But "we Chinese cardiovascular doctors often see middle-aged congenital heart disease sufferers so we are more familiar with how to treat them".

Ren said China is now in the early stages of launching varied healthcare-related projects to other countries.

Since the 2006 Forum on China-Africa Cooperation in Beijing, China has built 30 hospitals and 30 malaria treatment centers in Africa, providing medical equipment and materials, he said.

In recent years, it has also sent health workers specializing in immunization and infectious disease control mainly to cities, towns and villages in Africa to help train local health workers, he said.

The private sector in China, including private hospitals and healthcare providers, are also getting involved to help deliver medical services in target countries, Ren said.

At the conference on Friday, Deng Haihua, spokesman for the National Health and Family Planning Commission, said China would gradually improve its population policy based on its research into "economic and social developments". Its policy will be carried out at a "proper time", he said.

Chinese health officials also responded to the milk scare scandal from New Zealand, saying that "no cases of sickness due to the consumption (of tainted whey powder) have so far been reported in China".

Deng added that more efforts by the Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine will be carried out to examine contaminated products.

On Aug 2, New Zealand dairy giant Fonterra said batches of its whey protein produced in May 2012 were contaminated with Clostridium botulinum.