Volunteer experts help public health efforts in Middle East

By Li Qiao and Hu Yuwei Source:Global Times Published: 2020/3/11 20:13:40

Medicines placed in front of the Consulate General of Iran in Shanghai before being sent to Iran on Saturday Photo: CNS photo

Chinese volunteer medical experts dispatched to Iran fighting against COVID-19 have worked with local experts and hospitals on making therapeutic schedules to curtail the epidemic by drawing from China's clinical experience.

As Iran is facing an increasing number of COVID-19 infections, China has sent experts and provided medical supplies to the nation. 

Experts said bilateral ties between the two countries will be strengthened through joint efforts to overcome the epidemic, and that they can communicate with religious leaders to promote prevention knowledge among the public.

Working together 

Outside China, Iran is one of the countries most affected by the COVID-19. 

The death toll of novel coronavirus pneumonia in Iran rose to 354 amid 9,000 confirmed cases on Wednesday. 

The Red Cross Society of China (RCSC) sent a volunteer group of five health experts to Tehran on February 29, carrying medical supplies to support Iran's prevention and control efforts against COVID-19. 

The RCSC held a video conference with Chinese experts on Tuesday, in which the volunteer experts said they have developed a cooperative working scheme with the Iranian Ministry of Health, Iranian Red Crescent Society, hospitals, research universities and other organizations.

Qian Zhiping, one of the volunteer experts specializing in critical care, said in the conference that Iran's health authority is considering convalescent plasma therapy.

China reportedly offered convalescent plasma therapy for 245 COVID-19 patients in February, and 91 cases have shown improvement in clinical indicators and symptoms, according to information from the National Health Commission, the Xinhua News Agency reported. 

Chinese volunteer medical experts communicate with Iranian officials. Photo: Courtesy of the Red Cross Society of China

However, there may be some problems in promoting the therapy in Iran. Wang Chen, a senior respiratory physician and president of the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, who also attended the video conference, noted that convalescent plasma is an effective way to prevent the novel coronavirus until an effective drug is found. 

But an antibacterial solution is required at certain level, which may not be suitable for a country such as Iran, which lacks the testing conditions, Wang noted. He suggested that respiratory support technology is crucial in combating COVID-19 and hopefully more respiratory specialists will aid Iran.

Ma Guojun, another volunteer expert in Iran, said that the Iranian government has taken proper epidemic prevention measures, but still faces pressure and challenges. The Iranian government should step up calls for more alarm, said Ma, adding that if necessary, it should prepare for home quarantine measures.

Zhou Xiaohang, head of the Chinese expert team, said in the conference they will work with the Iranian Red Crescent Society on community training to improve epidemic prevention awareness.

Iranian medical staff are in great shortage of surgical masks and protective suits. Iran is running low on medical supplies and the prices of face masks are rising, Zhou noted.

The test kit carried with the volunteer expert team has been sent to the Pasteur Institute of Iran for parallel testing, reports said. 

More test kits, protective materials and medical equipment will be shipped from Shanghai to Iran on Thursday to help Iran fight the outbreak, RCSC President Chen Zhu said in the conference.

A worker is preparing donated medicines to send to Iran on Saturday. Photo: cnsphoto

Bilateral friendship

Because of US sanctions, Iran has faced difficulties in fighting against the outbreak with a hindered economy and shortage of medical resources. Iranians are touched by the timely assistance from China amid the COVID-19 outbreak, experts said. 

Li Weijian, a vice president of Middle East Institute of China, told the Global Times that Middle Eastern countries are shifting their gaze from West to East. They witnessed how China controlled the spread of the epidemic. Through active and effective communication, the Middle East is willing to learn more from China, said Li.

Iranian health officials warmly welcomed the Chinese medical delegation and praised China's achievements in the fight against the novel coronavirus. They also expressed their gratitude for the medical supplies and technical assistance China provided to Iran, the People's Daily reported.

In another development, the Chinese Embassy in Tehran donated 250,000 masks to Iran, which was followed by Chinese enterprises and individuals in Iran donating medical supplies.

"The outbreak will bring closer of the two peoples and the friendly and cooperative relations between the two countries will be further developed and consolidated," Chang Hua, Chinese Ambassador to Iran told CCTV.
Newspaper headline: Aiding Iran

Posted in: IN-DEPTH

blog comments powered by Disqus