Chinese medical team embarks on mission to Guinea

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A 21-member Chinese medical team, along with their family members and colleagues, poses for a group photo at the Beijing Capital International Airport before flying to Guinea on Sept 15, 2020. (Photo provided to

A Chinese medical team left Beijing for Guinea on Tuesday morning for a 18-month mission aiming to help improve healthcare services in the West African country.

The 21-member team — the 28th such team sent by the Chinese government to Guinea — will stay in the country for one and a half years, with most working at China-Guinea Friendship Hospital, a major hospital built with the assistance from the Chinese government in capital Conakry.

Of the 21 total team members, 19 are from Xuanwu Hospital, a major hospital affiliated to Capital Medical University. The experts specialize in various areas, including rehabilitation, neurosurgery, neurology, cardiovascular disease and radiology, the hospital said in a statement.

The experts will work with their counterparts at China-Guinea Friendship Hospital to develop the hospital into a top medical center for nerve diseases, such as stroke and Alzheimer's disease, in Guinea and West Africa, so local patients with such diseases could receive high-quality diagnosis and treatment, according to Zhang Wei, deputy Party chief of Xuanwu Hospital.

The experts will also work with their counterparts in Guinea to conduct extensive cooperation in medical care, teaching, research and disease prevention and control via various means to help local medical staff improve their expertise, she said.

In addition, two public health experts from the team will work at Guinea's health ministry to explore intensified bilateral cooperation in areas including health policy, healthcare reform, public health, hospital management and health promotion, Zhang said.

Prior to their departure, the team members received related training such as French language, the official language in Guinea, for nearly one year, Zhang said. China's National Health Commission and the Beijing Municipal Health Commission also sent related medical materials, including medicine and personal protective equipment, before the departure on Tuesday, Zhang said.

Tong Xiaogang, a surgeon in Xuanwu Hospital and a member of the team, said he has been glad to go to Guinea again to provide services to local people. He was on a similar mission there between 2006 and 2008.

"Back then, medical facilities in Guinea were poor and surgeries could be disrupted by power outages and a lack of basic medical materials," he said. "I am glad to hear conditions there have improved greatly over the past years."

Tong's mother-in-law, also a doctor in Beijing, was among the first sent by the Chinese government to Guinea for medical assistance in 1968, which was also a reason why he chose to volunteer to the country again this time, he said.

"My whole family, myself included, has deep feelings for Africa and African people," Tong said. "Although an experienced surgeon, I am also capable of some internal medicine, so I want to make my share of contributions to patients in Guinea."

China has sent medical teams to more than 70 countries and regions upon request in Asia, Africa, Latin America, Europe and Oceania since 1963, benefiting hundreds of millions, according to the National Health Commission.