Every morning, Zhu Xingguo, 46, leads his group of 12 Chinese medical specialists to the Juba Teaching Hospital, the main referral hospital in South Sudan.
Zhu heads the China medical team from China’s Anhui Province, which arrived in the East African nation in February. They have offered free medical services to over 2,500 patients in the war-torn country.
“The situation in China some decades ago was similar to what the people of South Sudan are facing now. So I want to give more service to the local people in South Sudan to help them enjoy healthy lives,” Zhu, a general surgeon, told Xinhua on Tuesday while preparing to start his daily activities.
For the past six years, China has dispatched five medical teams with a total of 66 members who offered specialized medical care and surgeries in the world’s youngest nation.
South Sudan’s health sector remains one of the least developed in the world due to decades of conflict for independence from Sudan and the civil strife in recent years.
The country lacks adequate medical facilities and the few operational hospitals suffer frequent power outages and understocking of medicine.
Despite the enormous challenges facing the Chinese doctors in South Sudan, Zhu said they still enjoy their time and work in South Sudan. “We will do our best to save people and promote good relations between our two governments,” Zhu said.
“The people of South Sudan are now facing so many challenges and as a Chinese, I want to tell them that don’t fail, keep moving forward because I think one day this country can unite and the current difficulties will end,” he added.
“And to the families of the Chinese doctors, don’t be worried about the safety of the Chinese medical team, we are safe because the people of South Sudan treat us very well and we enjoy our work here,” he noted.
Jiang Peng, a dermatologist, said many patients in South Sudan suffer from skin diseases that are not found in China, a major challenge for Chinese doctors there.
Despite that, Peng said she enjoys working in South Sudan as the locals were kind and friendly to them.
In February, China and South Sudan agreed to boost cooperation in the health sector by enhancing knowledge sharing, capacity building, and hospital-to-hospital collaboration.
Joseph Kenyi, a certified nurse who has worked with several Chinese doctors for the past four years, said he gained a lot of experience and knowledge from the China team.
Kenyi said continued cooperation between Chinese doctors and their South Sudanese colleagues will help strengthen the health sector in South Sudan.
“They give us hope that tomorrow we can transform our health sector to be strong. We need the government of China to continue sending more doctors and medicine to South Sudan,” Kenyi said.
“I feel very excited to share experience with the Chinese doctors and also get more knowledge. I thank the Chinese doctors for offering themselves to work with us freely and I thank them very much for this spirit. Let them continue to support South Sudanese people,” said Sabina Kiyang Michael, a nurse at Juba Teaching Hospital.