Feature: Chinese acupuncture therapy offers hope for patients in Uganda

(Xinhua) 13:20, May 13, 2024

KAMPALA, May 12 (Xinhua) -- In the China-Uganda Friendship Hospital in the Ugandan capital of Kampala, 40-year-old Naome Kayongo joins the queue, a familiar ritual in her journey toward healing. She is among a growing number of patients seeking acupuncture, a traditional Chinese therapy, hoping to restore movement to her paralyzed right hand.

Each needle inserted into Kayongo's body symbolizes a glimmer of hope.

In the East African country, the ancient Chinese practice of acupuncture is gaining popularity. As senior Chinese acupuncturist Wei Wei carefully places the needles, Ugandan nurse Stella Apio observes intently, learning from the specialist.

Wei is part of a Chinese medical team on a year-long mission at the China-Uganda Friendship Hospital. Guided by Wei, Apio administers moxibustion, another form of acupuncture therapy, to Kayongo. While in China, acupuncture is typically performed by doctors, but Apio is eager to become certified in Traditional Chinese Medicine therapies.

Since 1983, China has sent medical specialists, including acupuncturists, to Uganda as part of efforts to enhance healthcare in the country. This collaboration extends both ways, with many Ugandan healthcare professionals also traveling to China for training and exchanges.

Last year, Apio was among the medical personnel selected by the Ugandan government for a three-week training program in Beijing. In a recent interview with Xinhua, she shared her experience of being placed at a hospital in the Chinese capital where acupuncture was a primary therapy. This exposure has fueled her optimism that with time, she will master the intricate skills of acupuncture.

"The acupuncture treatment rooms in China are spacious and equipped with machines, unlike here. We have received some machines from China, and we are using them," Apio said.

With 24 years of medical practice, Wei said it takes lengthy training to master acupuncture. She highlighted its effectiveness for both young and elderly patients suffering from various ailments such as stroke and back pain.

On average, the clinic attends to about 15 patients per day over the two days it operates each week, according to Apio. Patients typically receive two sessions per day, tailored to the severity of their condition.

"We sometimes get overwhelmed because of the high number of patients, considering we are only open two days a week," she added.

Kayongo is among the patients grateful for the availability of acupuncture at the hospital. Since a motorcycle accident left her right hand paralyzed last October, she has been undergoing acupuncture sessions.

"I have tried several treatments, but it is with acupuncture that I am finally noticing a difference," she said. Expressing her gratitude for the Chinese administration of this therapy, Kayongo has recommended the treatment to many of her friends.

According to the hospital administration, acupuncture, along with other forms of alternative or traditional medicine, is gaining prominence alongside Western medicine in Uganda, offering complementary treatment options.

(Web editor: Zhang Kaiwei, Zhong Wenxing)


Related Stories