Volunteers outline flaws in medical system

By Sun Weichi and Du Liya Source:Global Times Published: 2013-11-7 17:33:01

An American medical team recently shared its experience in offering volunteer medical treatment and consultation in Northeast China's Jilin Province in September. China needs effective campaigns to educate its public about basic healthcare knowledge immediately, the team noted.

Tom Yeh, a heart physician from the Garfield Medical Center and the volunteer team leader, said that American doctors have offered free clinics in China for decades, but not always in the same way as Chinese American doctors from the Garfield Medical Center,  who have been doing so at their own expense for more than a decade.

Yeh went to Northwest China's Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region for his first volunteer activity in 2001. He said the current Chinese healthcare system can be improved by enriching medical resources in rural areas and opening up to private hospitals.

He believed that there is great potential in the Chinese medical market once more private investment can be put into the field to provide more medical facilities.

Another problem lies in the unbalanced development in the Chinese medical system, as medical facilities and treatment are sophisticated in big cities while those in towns and villages remain poor, said Yeh.

Members of the volunteer group agreed that the most pressing issue for the Chinese medical system is to popularize healthcare knowledge among the public, which could be of great help in disease prevention and treatment.

David Chu, a surgeon also from the medical center, said the mortality rate of breast cancer patients is low in the US because of good education and dissemination of knowledge, but the breast cancer rate is on the rise in China, partially attributable to the absence of effective outreach campaigns to disseminate related healthcare knowledge.

Su Xiaojian, a recovery nurse, said that many patients know nothing about prevention, and have no awareness of preventing diseases from their daily meals. For example, some high blood pressure patients take medicine for treatment and eat salty food at the same time, Su added.

The difference in medical systems between China and the US has led to a divergence in nursing styles.

Li Mingmei, head nurse of the medical center, said American nurses provide both medical and mental care for patients while Chinese nurses take care of patients according to the doctors' instructions.

The medical team also noticed some progress in the Chinese medical system, such as senior citizens over the age of 70 being able to see doctors without registration, and being able to call an ambulance 24 hours a day and be sent to hospitals for free.

Li Xuhua, a respiratory doctor also from the Garfield Medical Center, said ambulance costs, unlike China, are very high in the US and some Chinese-Americans will not call 911 unless the situation is extremely serious.

Erik Jiang, Chief Business Development Officer at Garfield Medical Center, said that their medical volunteer team has regularly organized at least two activities overseas every year since 2001.

The team has been to some poor and remote areas in China, including the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, Qinghai, the Tibet Autonomous Region, Guizhou, Sichuan, Yunnan in China, and also Peru, Chile, Nepal, India and Cambodia, said Jiang.

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