Chinese team helps heal Nepal

Doctors from the Chinese Red Cross team attend to an elderly resident's broken leg in Magagun, Nepal, on May 6, 2015.

When the Chinese Red Cross team eventually encamped in the small village of Magagun, 20 km from the epicenter of the Nepal earthquake, its field hospital was like a light in the darkness for the locals.

The mother of Mithun, a 10-year-old boy, said her son had been really sick since the earthquake and his belly had become bigger than normal.

"We were afraid that he was desperately ill," she said.

Mithun was sent to the Chinese Red Cross field hospital on Wednesday morning, where a doctor performed an ultrasound test and checked the boy's daily diet.

The examination results showed that Mithun's problem was caused by malnutrition and the harsh living environment since the quake.

When his mother, who also has another child, was told that her son would get well soon by taking the medicine prescribed, she was greatly relieved.

"Our home was destroyed during the quake, but as long as all my family members are fine, we will get better in time," she said.

Holding the Chinese doctor's hands, she said: "Thank you very much. Thank you indeed."

Mithun is one of 1,500 local patients who have been treated at the field hospital.

Since arriving in Kathmandu on April 30, the team sent by the Red Cross Society of China has been busy visiting patients and seeking a base for the hospital.

On May 1, International Workers' Day, the medical team walked nearly 30 km from Kathmandu to areas where no medical support had come since the quake struck on April 25.

Wang Ping, director of the Chinese Red Cross team to Nepal, said: "After consulting with the Nepal Red Cross, we found that most local and international medical teams were gathered in Kathmandu, the capital, which did not suffer the most damage.

"Many people living near mountainous areas, like the 15,000 people in Magagun where we camped, had not received any proper medical treatment since the quake."

Moving medical supplies to the area was not easy. It took the team more than eight hours to drive along 130 kilometers of damaged roads. On arrival, the team put up 10 tents.

"Even under a strong sun, people are lining up outside our tents. They are so eager to see a doctor, and this makes us feel more responsible for them," Wang said.

Nearly 20 doctors, including experts in emergencies, orthopedics, respiratory diseases, pediatrics and gynecology, worked at the field hospital, Wang said.

The Chinese team also offers help to those who need psychological counseling.

Dev Ratna Dhakhaw, secretary-general of the Nepal Red Cross Society, said the Chinese medical support has been highly efficient.

"Before the quake, we had been cooperating with the Chinese Red Cross for years. We have personnel exchange programs every year, and our partnership has been close.

"The joint work in post-quake rescues is a new form of co-operation. Chinese medical teams are very open-minded, and their support is very sustainable."

Hundreds of thousands of homeless families are still living under waterproof fabric at public shelters. When the Nepali Red Cross requested a large number of tents, its Chinese counterpart delivered 2,000 of them. Each tent can house six people.

Wang said: "When we revisited some of the tents we set up for local residents, we found more than 20 people were sharing one of them. We've provided accommodations for more than 10,000 Nepalis, but apparently it's not enough yet."

The possibility of epidemics still exists, and more work on prevention is the key for the Chinese medical workers.

The Chinese Red Cross team is working with local volunteers to hand out free face masks and drugs, and on giving basic health lectures to local communities, especially at public shelters.

"We will go farther into the mountainous areas to help those who have had no access to medical support," Wang said.


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