Profile: A Chinese surgeon's 11 years of devotion in Africa
ZHENGZHOU, Nov. 30 (Xinhua) -- Halfway around the world, Wu Minxian, a surgeon from central China's Henan Province, has devoted 11 years of his life to helping the people of Africa.
"People there need me. As a doctor, I'm responsible for saving lives," he said.
Among the thousands of Chinese doctors toiling to improve public health across the African continent, the 56-year-old started his journey in 2001 in east Africa's Eritrea as a member of the provincial medical team.
Since 1973, Henan Province has dispatched 57 medical teams to developing countries and regions, administering over 7 million treatments and carrying out more than 57,000 operations, according to the provincial health authorities.
"Eritrea has so many patients but only a few doctors. With scarce medical resources, patients there have to wait for a long time to see a doctor," he said. "Some even die while waiting."
Working in a totally different country was not easy.
"Eritrea's high altitude and intense ultraviolet radiation caused altitude sickness and physical discomfort among our team members," he said. "Besides, the diseases found in Africa are different from those in China."
In two years, Wu had cooperated with local doctors and worked out new methods suitable for the patients there to improve their care.
Wu served in Africa six times for a total of 11 years in Eritrea, Zambia and Ethiopia, providing treatment to more than 30,000 patients on the continent.
In 2011, Wu led two of his colleagues to accomplish a successful operation in a rural hospital in Ethiopia for a 42-year-old woman who had been suffering from an advanced breast mass for two years.
The surgery was the first to be conducted in the newly established Tulu Bolo Hospital, which is located in a remote town about 100 km away from the capital city of Addis Ababa.
"There were 50 beds in the hospital, with only two young local doctors," Wu said. "That was my first big operation in Ethiopia. The hospital had no anesthetist, surgeon, nor had they performed an operation before, so we went there to help."
Despite the necessary preparations, Wu found reality tougher than expected. During his four years in Zambia, Wu fell ill from malaria 12 times. He was pricked eight times during surgical operations, five of which involved patients that tested positive for HIV antibodies.
As of 2018, some 280 million patients in 71 countries, including 48 countries in Africa, had been treated by 26,000 Chinese health workers, 51 of whom had died in the line of duty.
"If I became infected with HIV, I would stay in the continent forever," he said. "I'm a doctor, and death should be just as much a part of my job as saving lives."
In September, Wu completed his latest aid program in Eritrea, leading the provincial medical team of Henan.
"If given the opportunity in the future, I will go anywhere people need me," he said.