Keeping sight of the goal
By Xu Bei  ·  2023-03-16  ·   Source: NO.11 MARCH 16, 2023
Shi Yu, an ophthalmologist and a member of China's 18th batch of medical teams dispatched to Guyana, poses for a picture with local children visiting the team's temporary residence in the capital city of Georgetown (COURTESY PHOTO)

For Chinese ophthalmologist Shi Yu, the Latin American country of Guyana offers many new experiences.

"This was my first time taking a plane to go and offer medical services in Guyana, and the destination was Lethem," she wrote. Located on the southwestern border, the city, the largest in south Guyana, is close to Brazil and most locals speak Portuguese. "So it also became my first time using a translation app to communicate with patients," she explained on her Weixin Moments, the ubiquitous Chinese super app's Instagram-like feed, on February 26.

The doctor from Nanjing Drum Tower Hospital in Jiangsu Province in east China is a member of China's 18th batch of medical teams dispatched to Guyana more than four months ago.

Nearly 600 km from Guyana's capital Georgetown, Lethem is underdeveloped in terms of economy and healthcare. Given the lack of medical sources, even patients who suffer from common diseases cannot receive effective or prompt treatment.

Invited by the local government, the medical team arrived in Lethem on February 24 to offer two-day free medical services starting from their day of arrival. Their services included general surgery, traditional Chinese medicine treatment and acupuncture, obstetrics and gynecology, and pediatrics. They also donated dozens of commonly prescribed medicines to residents.

In addition to providing medical services in Lethem and treating patients at hospitals in Georgetown and Linden, they also trained their Guyanan counterparts there. After all, "teaching someone to fish is better than catching the fish for them," Shi told Beijing Review.

This year marks the 60th anniversary of China sending its first medical aid team overseas, as well as the 30th anniversary of Chinese doctors saving lives in Guyana. Since 1963, China has dispatched 18 medical teams to the country with 263 members who assisted their Guyanan peers at medical institutions such as Georgetown Public Hospital Corp. "This year was a significant one in China's history of medical assistance and I've been lucky to be part of that story," Shi said.

"Helping others made me happy," Shi said. And so, in that same spirit, she signed up to join the medical team to Guyana, hoping to bring health to people living in the tropical rainforest in the southern hemisphere.

"When local patients gradually recover and express their gratitude with a simple thumbs up, happiness replaces homesickness," she added.

Copyedited by Elsbeth van Paridon

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