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Chinese traditional medicine brought to Cameroon countryside

Updated: 2022-11-10 08:21 ( Xinhua )
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YAOUNDE, Cameroon — Before 6 am, Berline Fangan had already taken her seat at a makeshift traditional Chinese medicine clinic just outside the Bangou sub-divisional hospital in the West Region of Cameroon.

The mother of two was nervous and in pain as she explained that her untreated 10-year-old joint problem was wearing her down. She, like many of the other patients who visited the clinic, had been treated by conventional doctors over the years, but found the prescribed drugs ineffective.

" (The drugs) relieved me a bit …but five minutes later the pain came back," the 53-year-old woman says. She and hundreds of Cameroonian residents of Bangou and Bamendjou, Upper Plateau division, were waiting for a team of Chinese specialist medics who arrived in the region last week for a two-day free consultation and treatment campaign.

Bangou and Bamendjou, with a population of more than 100,000, are surrounded by many rural communities widely dispersed through wild terrain, and have only two hospitals.

Villagers are often troubled by health problems like gastritis, typhoid, malaria, cataracts and rheumatism. But most of them cannot afford medical services.

People came from far and wide in the impoverished region to receive free medical treatment.

"My brother informed me of the health campaign. I left Douala (Cameroon's commercial hub, more than 200 kilometers away from Bangou) at midnight and arrived here at 6:30 in the morning," says a retired history teacher and father of five who says he has been suffering from cramps since 2016.

Martine Kouamo stood looking dejected at her 10-year-old son Christian Djomo, who had been suffering from testicular pain. His twin sister had neck strain, and one part of her body was exhibiting weakness.

The exact causes of the ailments were unknown.

"I tried to use conventional medicine (on Christian) for three years, but in vain. I think Chinese doctors will help because they work well," Kouamo says.

As the sun rose over Bangou and Bamendjou, a good number of patients began taking turns to register, consult and then received treatment from doctors in various departments, who were here as members of the 22nd Chinese medical team to Cameroon.

Fangan was among the first patients to be consulted.

She was carefully administered an acupuncture therapy, an ancient Chinese method of treatment in which fine needles are inserted through the skin at specific points to treat various physical conditions.

"As I speak to you the pain is gone," Fangan says after the treatment. "I feel better. In the morning, I couldn't swing my neck like this …but now I can swing behind, left and right without problem."

Her boy, Christian, was administered medicine, and hoped it would help him recover.

For the first time since 2016, Justin Kouamou, 71, felt relieved. Before this, he had visited doctors several times for an unnamed sickness, but the results were not satisfactory.

"The Chinese doctors inserted needles in my skin and it magically alleviated my pain. I am still amazed by the wonders of that treatment," Kouamou says.

More than 1,600 patients were consulted and treated during the campaign, which ran from Oct 29 to 30, says Paul Sikapin, mayor of Bangou.

"I asked firmly that such a campaign should be organized next year," Sikapin says.

Fabrice Dubila, a medical doctor in Bangou sub-divisional hospital, says Cameroonian and Chinese doctors worked shoulder to shoulder in treating patients and offering much-needed medical services during the campaign.

"This is a great opportunity to learn from our colleagues overseas. So far we have collaborated on the diagnosis of some patients and I have also learned some other diagnostic techniques I can use to diagnose some particular diseases, notably lipoma and other pathologies. I think it is a very good opportunity to have witnessed acupuncture here in Bangou," Dubila says.

Theodore Datouo, deputy speaker of Cameroon's National Assembly and also a member of parliament for the Upper Plateau constituency, says the campaign was a mark of friendly relations between Cameroon and China.

"China has always assisted Cameroon in the health sector and this time it is the turn of the West Region to benefit," says Datouo, the main organizer of the campaign.

"This campaign is for the health and well-being of the population, and when the population is healthy, economic development will follow. We thank China for this cooperation and the Chinese medical team in Cameroon," he adds.

Guo Jun, head of the Chinese medical team in Cameroon says China has dispatched 22 medical teams and 736 medical professionals to Cameroon since 1975 to diagnose diseases, relieve patients' pains and improve local health conditions and medical expertise.

"Today's free clinic is just an example. In the future, we will further deepen cooperation and contribute to promoting medical assistance projects and improving China-Cameroon friendship," Guo says.

Besides the free acupuncture clinic, the Chinese medical team, along with the Beijing Urban Construction Group, donated drugs and protective materials to local hospitals.

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