Introduction of traditional Chinese medicine is the latest chapter in the decades-long health cooperation between China and Africa
By Derrick Silimina  ·  2021-10-29  ·   Source: ChinAfrica
A Chinese TCM practitioner attends to an African patient battling with swollen feet (DERRICK SILIMINA)

In its quest to enhance the health care infrastructure and medical facilities in Africa, China continues to boost medical cooperation in a number of ways with Africa.

Over the years, the Asian economic giant has gone an extra mile to assist most African nations in building their medical institutions, providing medicine and equipment, assisting in the prevention and control of infectious diseases, particularly malaria, dispatching medical teams to Africa to provide medical care and trainings, and offering scholarships to African students to study medicine in China, among others.

Since 1963, more than 21,000 Chinese health professionals have been sent to Africa to support local programs, having benefited about 220 million patients, according to figures released by the National Health Commission of China.

Sharing experience learnt from its domestic successes is a key element of China's health cooperation with Africa. For instance, when the first COVID-19 case was confirmed on the African continent, China, despite being ravaged by the virus then, rushed to help African nations by wholeheartedly providing medical supplies and sharing health experience.

As the Chinese medical workers shuttle back and forth between China and African countries to help prevent the outbreak of diseases, their curative ingenuity offers potential opportunities for health investment, capacity building, knowledge sharing on disease threats, and approaches to enhance health governance.

A part of this health cooperation, China has also been introducing the age-old practice of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) to countries across Africa. As TCM grows in demand internationally, medical experts say a growing number of African patients are turning to the therapy, becoming a new trend in the nearly six-decade China-Africa medical cooperation.


A woman receives TMC therapy (HELLORF)  

Adoption of TCM in Namibia 

Mable Haufiku, 32, had almost lost hope of recovering from her persistent migraine headaches after several conventional medical treatments; but thanks to TCM, she now has a reason to smile.

"I can testify that acupuncture treatment is real and effective because this medical therapy provided by the Chinese medical team has given me a second chance in life with its miraculous effect," Haufiku said with confidence.

Many Namibians with persisting ailments have embraced TCM, a therapy which has proven to be effective in enhancing the quality of life for many local people in Africa.

At Katutura State Hospital located in the heart of Namibia's capital Windhoek, people can avail quality medical care. Together with Windhoek Central Hospital, Katutura is a state-run medical facility in the Windhoek area, and Namibia's only general referral hospital.

"I turned to acupuncture therapy following severe backache and pain in my legs. The Chinese medical team's timely and caring delivery of TCM has given me hope as I have fully recovered," Leonard Nambahu, a resident of Windhoek, told ChinAfrica., a Chinese online medical platform, defines acupuncture as an age-old healing technique of TCM in which needles are inserted into energy points on the human body. TCM is one of the world's oldest forms of medical practice and includes a range of treatments from herbal concoctions and acupuncture to Tai Chi. With a history of thousands of years, TCM therapy includes various forms of massage, exercise, and diet therapy, among others.

Medial assistance team 

The 13th Chinese medical team to Namibia has delivered TCM treatments to more than 7,000 locals across the country during an 18-month visit to Namibia between January 2020 and July 2021. Some of the diseases they attended to include muscle and joint pains, paralysis, and migraine, according to local health authorities.

Tina Kazenene, another resident of Windhoek, disclosed that she had introduced TCM treatment to three of her family members, all of whom have been treated and have seen impressive improvement in their health.

"The Chinese doctors have indeed left memories in the hearts of the people they treated here in Namibia, as many patients had given up hope," Kazenene stated.

The Namibian Government has since lauded the Chinese medical team that was stationed at Katutura State Hospital in Windhoek.

Minister of Health and Social Services Kalumbi Shangula commended the Chinese medical team for their diligent and professional service, noting that the knowledge and skills have also greatly contributed to the government's efforts in accelerating the access to health and ensuring the health and well-being of the nation.

"Now that the term of the medical team from Zhejiang Province [of China] has come to an end, allow me to express my sincerest appreciation to the team for the services rendered to the Namibian people because one of the consistent and much-valued support over the years came through the Chinese medical teams," Shangula said.

Namibian Founding President Sam Nujoma noted, "The People's Republic of China is indeed Namibia's all-weather friend," and stated that the sustained quality service delivered by the Chinese medical team further cements China-Namibia ties.

Fang Lianqiang, medical team leader of the outgoing 13th batch, said, "It makes one happy to impact the lives of others positively through providing medical service."

Apart from treating patients, the Chinese medical staff also ran a skill exchange program to build the capacity of intern doctors at the University of Namibia's School of Medicine and made further contributions to the patients by donating anti-epidemic materials to the hospital in a bid to fight COVID-19.

For this reason, Chinese medical workers have won admiration from local officials and medical staff in their mission to provide treatment for various ailments that have claimed lives in the country.

Certainly, TCM treatment is becoming one of China's distinguished medical contributions in Africa in general and Namibia in particular, especially in far-flung places where there aren't enough medicine or medical equipment supplies.

"Chinese medical teams have lifted the level of service in our hospital," said Nelago Amagulu, Medical Superintendent at Katutura State Hospital. 

Reporting from Zambia  

(Print Edition Title: Namibians Turn to TCM) 

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