MORE than half a million Basotho have benefitted from medical treatment by teams of Chinese doctors in 20 years of co-operation between the two countries.
This was revealed by the Chinese ambassador to Lesotho, Dr Sun Xianghua, at a ceremony on Thursday to bid farewell to the 10th Chinese Medical Team at the Chinese Embassy in Maseru.
The ceremony also welcomed the 11th group of specialist doctors to succeed their outgoing counterparts in various programmes aimed at uplifting the health standards of Basotho.
“Groups of Chinese doctors have for the past 20 years left their loved ones behind in China to come and serve their Basotho friends. So far, close to half a million Basotho have been treated by Chinese doctors,” said Ambassador Xianghua.
“This shows the unwavering commitment of the Chinese government to the wellbeing of our Basotho Friends which has stood the test of time.”
He said that this was among several aspects of the bilateral cooperation which demonstrated that Sino-Lesotho relations had reached “historic heights”, thanks to people in both countries including the medical teams.
“As we celebrate 20 years of medical cooperation, let us not only reflect on the past journey but also look forward to the next 20 years of joint efforts and a bright future,” he said.
Since 1996, more than 130 Chinese doctors have been deployed to Lesotho to help in different hospitals. The 10th team arrived last October and has been replaced by another which arrived in the country last week.
The leader of the outgoing team, Dr Liu Weihong said they were happy to have impacted positively on Basotho lives even in difficult situations as they arrived during the drought period.
“We arrived in Lesotho on the 9th of October 2015 with high expectations for the team to surpass the achievements of the 9th team.
“It is an honour to stand here and recall a year of great work done by this team through hard days of drought. Due to this scourge, we often had to fetch water from a great distance away from hospitals and we also had several patients whose illnesses were caused by the drought,” he said.
He said his team was so dedicated to ensuring the best possible care that at times they skipped breaks to remain in the intensive care units until patients got better.
He said they attended to “13 500 patients, 600 of these being surgeries, 120 emergencies while other treatments were acupunctures, CT scanning and X-ray”.
“We held team building sessions and seminars for local doctors during our free time in order to equip them with skills to improve their work.
“We also offered primary medical care in different villages, donated food and hosted games like basketball and tennis as part of efforts to cement relations with Basotho communities,” he said.
The leader of the incoming 9-member team, Dr Zuo Ran, acknowledged they had big shoes to fill but expressed confidence that their expertise and experience would see them through the task of strengthening the medical bond between the two countries.
Government officials who attended the event included Minsters Tlohang Sekhamane (Foreign Affairs and International Relations), Dr Molotsi Monyamane (Health), Molahlehi Letlotlo (Social Welfare) and Hloaele Mokoto (Development Planning) as well as the Prime Minister’s private secretary Mamello Morrison.
For his part, Minister Sekhamane expressed gratitude for the work of the Chinese medical teams in improving the country’s health system.
“Health adds value to human life and is a fundamental driver of economic growth and development.
“The Chinese Medical teams have helped improve our health system, raise local medical standards and alleviate the suffering of countless Basotho while also addressing the critical shortage of medical personnel in Lesotho,” he said.
He said their selflessness and professionalism had not gone unnoticed and Basotho were “eternally grateful for the demonstration of true humanity”.