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Chinese medical teams provide major boost to Sierra Leone’s health system

By Abu Bakarr Kargbo (People's Daily Online)    17:31, September 11, 2020

Three Chinese medical expert teams are currently scoring major successes in developing Sierra Leone’s health sector. Since their arrival in the West African nation, the Chinese medics have been widely acclaimed by Sierra Leone’s government and people for not only playing key roles in treating cases like malaria, typhoid fever, diarrhea, and other contagious diseases, but for also being on the forefront in diagnosing and treating coronavirus (COVID-19) cases. Two of the teams, which arrived in the country in July 2019, had their mission ended on 30th June 2020. Due to the non-availability of flights and the important role they have been playing in complementing the government of Sierra Leone’s fight against COVID-19, the three Chinese medical teams have decided to extend their stay, continuing their work to ensure a healthy society.

Recently, the Chinese medical experts have been working side by side and around the clock with their Sierra Leonean counterparts in detecting, diagnosing, and treating COVID-19 cases.

China and Sierra Leone have emerged as genuine and reliable partners, and since the establishment of diplomatic ties 49 years ago, the two countries have gone a long way in conducting practical cooperation in infrastructure construction, fishery, agriculture, public health, education, and human resource development.

The Chinese Medical Team at Jui Hospital

Team Leader Dr. Jiang Haibo (middle) with two Senior Medical Experts

The team, attached to the Sierra Leone-China Friendship Hospital at Jui in Freetown, is comprised of three physician doctors, three surgical doctors, one NVV doctor, one Chinese traditional medicine expert, one laboratory expert, and three nurses.

Dr. Jiang Haibo, team leader of the Chinese medical team at the Sierra Leone-China Friendship Hospital in Sierra Leone, revealed that they have been working relentlessly in providing medical support in areas like surgery, observation, treatment, administering Chinese medicines, skills transfer to local staff, laboratory management, etc., before the COVID-19 outbreak in Sierra Leone.

He named malaria as one of the most effective diseases in Sierra Leone for which they have trained local staff, such as laboratory technicians, on how to diagnose and treat. Their partnership with local staff has led to the discovery of Olva malaria, which was diagnosed in a patient who has been taken to several hospitals in Sierra Leone without any solution. “We normally do a joint consultation with the local staff on how to treat complicated cases, and we have successfully treated three cases that required intensive care. They all recovered successfully and were discharged,” he said, adding that they also use Chinese traditional medicines to treat some cases.

Another disease the Chinese medics have been treating is cataracts, which is an eye disease that is different in Sierra Leone due to the strong sunlight, according to Dr. Jiang Haibo, noting that most patients find it extremely difficult to undergo surgery, but the Chinese medical team has successfully remedied 22 cases before the outbreak of COVID-19.

Pediatrician Zhao Mengwen said they have treated lots of children with diseases like malaria, typhoid fever, upper respiratory diseases, and they have trained local doctors and nurses on how to manage cases like convulsion and other respiratory infections. He revealed that children infected with COVID-19 have been referred to the Chinese Hospital. “We have been working closely with the Ola During Memorial Hospital for children in treating cases,” he said.

Since the arrival of the Chinese medical team in July 2019 to March 2020, it has treated 18, 000 outpatients, admitted 963 patients, conducted 277 surgeries, carried out 34, 000 tests on drug routines, kidney and blood samples, and administered Chinese traditional medicines to 1,200 patients.

Since the COVID-19 outbreak in Sierra Leone, the Chinese Friendship Hospital has been transformed from a normal hospital to a treatment facility of mostly COVID-19 patients. The hospital is divided into three zones, namely, blue, yellow, and red zones. Most of the local staff who have a wealth of experience in treating the Ebola disease are working with the Chinese medical experts in taking the lead in emergency response, diagnoses, and treatment of COVID-19 patients. Due to training provided to local staff in areas like emergency response, diagnosis, treatment and the proper use of equipment, none of the medical staff been infected with COVID-19.

Seventy-seven COVID-19 patients were admitted to Sierra Leone-China Friendship Hospital, including 12 children under the age of 14 and eight under the age of five. All pediatric patients were cured and discharged, whilst five deaths were recorded due to the severity of the adult patients, most of whom had other medical complications before contracting COVID-19 like diabetes, hypertension, HIV/AIDS, drug abuse and hepatitis. COVID-19 patients, like children who are treated and discharged at the Sierra Leone-China Friendship Hospital, are followed up to ensure that they are ok.

“We want to see the Sierra Leone-China Friendship Hospital go back to the normal treatment of various disease, because most people in Sierra Leone are in dire need of quality medical services,” says Dr. Jiang Haibo, adding “the patients need us and we too are missing those times when we were treating normal health complications.”


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