50 years of healthy ties

This April marks the 50th anniversary of the Chinese government sending the country's first medical team to Sudan, opening a glorious chapter for bilateral health cooperation that has lasted half a century.

SHEN GANGSHAN/FOR CHINA DAILY

This April marks the 50th anniversary of the Chinese government sending the country's first medical team to Sudan, opening a glorious chapter for bilateral health cooperation that has lasted half a century.

With its hard work and feet firmly on the ground, the Chinese medical team, which began its operations in Sudan in April 1971, is well-known among the Sudanese people for its expertise, becoming a successful example of cooperation between the two nations.

With superb medical skills and noble medical ethics, the team of benevolent doctors have saved many lives, establishing a glorious image as international healthcare providers.

Up to now, China has dispatched 36 medical teams, comprising a total of 1,065 medical workers, to Sudan. Over the past 50 years, the teams have attended to more than 8 million patients, offering hospitalization services to nearly 300,000 patients and carrying out more than 200,000 surgeries. There have been many touching stories, including that of three generations of medical workers devoting themselves to the mission. In one case, an individual was part of a medical team six times. The team members have performed a series of cutting-edge surgeries, filling many gaps in Sudanese healthcare.

The Chinese medical team to Sudan is also contributing to the two nations' joint fight against the novel coronavirus outbreak. The team has given 12 lectures on health awareness, which were broadcast to the nation through Sudanese TV networks.

Between the end of May and early June last year, a Chinese team of 20 experts on pandemic containment joined the Chinese medical team to Sudan to offer guidance and consultation on pandemic prevention and control, diagnosis and treatment, and emergency management.

This March, China became the first country to provide vaccine assistance to Sudan under a bilateral framework, sending 250,000 doses of its COVID-19 vaccines.

The Chinese medical team to Sudan is an ambassador for Chinese-Sudanese friendship. Because of its dedication and hard work, the team is listed among the 10 highlights for the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Sudan.

Locals affectionately refer to the Abu Ushar Hospital, built with Chinese government aid, as the Chinese Hospital. At the height of the pandemic, an elderly person who had been treated by the Chinese medical team, sent some local herbal medicines to team members, saying gratefully: "The Chinese brothers help us, and we must also give back to the Chinese brothers." On learning that the Chinese expert group was visiting Abu Ushar Hospital, villagers offered a goat, the highest courtesy they accord to distinguished guests.

The medical team is not only a disseminator of Chinese experience, but also a broadcaster of Chinese stories. It has organized cultural exchange activities at local communities and schools, such as the Chinese Culture Day, to let local people get a glimpse of Chinese culture.

At the 6th Sudan Asian Cultural Festival, the team presented a waist drum performance and offered Chinese snacks to people from different nations. At the Chinese Tea House salon organized by the Chinese embassy in Sudan, the team's tea art performances aroused strong interest in Chinese tea culture among the foreign guests.

Since the establishment of diplomatic relations 62 years ago, medical and health cooperation between the two countries has been hailed as a model for bilateral pragmatic cooperation. China's medical assistance to Sudan is people-oriented and aims to improve people's livelihoods and improve the level of local healthcare in Sudan.

The Chinese medical team has promoted the teaching of treatment methods as a whole, and has trained a team of Sudanese doctors. In terms of infrastructure, the Chinese government has assisted in the construction or expansion of three friendship hospitals in Omdurman, Abu Ushar and Damazin, and equipped them with advanced diagnosis and treatment equipment. The Chinese medical team worked with well-known Chinese ophthalmologists to carry out free clinics in Sudan twice, in 2016 and 2018 respectively, which have helped more than 1,300 Sudanese cataract patients regain their sight. China also provides Sudanese residents with scholarships and training opportunities in the field of medicine and healthcare every year. Many trainees have become the backbone of Sudan's health system after returning from their studies.

China stands ready to work with the Sudanese side to actively implement the initiatives and measures proposed by President Xi Jinping at the opening ceremony of the 73rd World Health Assembly and the Extraordinary China-Africa Summit on Solidarity against COVID-19.

It is important to make solid progress in the health initiative within the framework of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation and the China-Arab States Cooperation Forum, continue to tap into the medical team's potential, and make good use of the pair-off cooperation hospital mechanism. It is also important to further strengthen bilateral exchanges and cooperation in public health, infectious disease prevention and control, medical infrastructure, medical personnel training and capacity building to bring the cooperation to a new level.

The Chinese medical team to Sudan has been witness to a touching chapter in China-Sudan friendship that has become stronger and stronger. Looking forward to the next 50 years, it will surely start the journey anew and lead the China-Sudan Health Community to a better tomorrow.

The author is the Chinese ambassador to Sudan. The author contributed this article to China Watch, a think tank powered by China Daily. The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.


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