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Foreign aid doctors bring medical skill and love to Sahara

By Zhao Tong (People's Daily Online)    08:46, January 14, 2020

(Photo/www.ccdi.gov.cn)

Guo Luping, a doctor from the Maternity and Child Care Center in Jiangxi, can’t hold the scalpel anymore, but her vow to be an outstanding doctor still holds true.

"I am a doctor, I may have a tumor. I need to do a physical examination.” In January 2016, Guo arrived in Nanchang. She didn't have time to go home and went straight to the hospital. Her instinct told her that the tumor in her chest might be malignant.

Actually, four or five months ago, Guo already found that she may have a tumor, but did not talk about it. It wasn't until the Lunar New Year holiday that she started paying attention to her health. After the physical exam, she found that she had breast cancer.

"I was in Tunisia and I was treating people every day. I couldn't leave for a day, or even an hour," Guo said.

In November 2014, as a member of the 21st group of Chinese medical aid workers, Guo went to Tunisia, the northernmost country on the African continent. The hospital was located at the edge of the Sahara desert, with sandstorms that can reduce visibility to a few meters. Furthermore, the equipment was not as good as domestic county hospitals. The obstetrics department had only one ward, and one doctor.

At the hospital, Guo sometimes had to perform four or five operations a day and sometimes more than 10. She was always late for dinner, so she had to dine on cold water and bread. Later, she simply soaked the bread in water to make a cup of liquid before eating. Guo said that not only her but all of the doctors in the medical team are excellent.

The local people were amazed by the professionalism, dedication and hard work of the Chinese doctors, and the working system they brought was also followed. Thanks to their joint efforts, the once high rates of neonatal and maternal mortality have come down.

Many years of selfless assistance cemented the friendship. “There are very few Asian faces here,” said Guo. Whether they are children of a few years old or people in their 70s and 80s, they will call those with yellow skin and black hair “Chinese doctor!” "It made me feel the connection between people and their hearts," Guo said.

Guo quietly found her doctor and asked to take some drugs and a chemotherapy pump back to the Sahara desert, to fulfill her commitment to the patients. The senior leadership heard about it and persuaded her to stay in China for treatment, even though she had already bought a ticket back. "You are not the only person, you have a team behind you," said her leader. This team is the Chinese medical team. Over the past 50 years, Chinese doctors have provided services to over 20,000 people, benefiting over 200 million patients.

Although the five years after the operation are still a dangerous time, Guo has always had the dream of going back, even though she can no longer hold a scalpel. As the ambassador of the China population welfare foundation and the representative of provincial and municipal women's federations, she has integrated herself into a broader career and devoted herself to the field of "Belt and Road Initiative" health care. 

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Zhao Tong, Bianji)

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