Yang Mingfang, Aldak
Thanks to China's efforts to alleviate poverty in its Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region by improving health care of the region, Maihesuti Maimaiti, a 67-year-old resident in Xinjiang who had long suffered from a pain in his knees, received treatment and saw significant improvement in his health condition.
"In the past, he couldn't walk steadily even with a stick. Now he is much nimbler on his feet than before," said his wife, who attributes the improvement to the People's Hospital of Pishan County in Pishan county, Hotan prefecture of Xinjiang.
According to the elderly couple, who lives in Pishan county, Maimaiti was a construction worker when he was young, and he began to feel a pain in his knees about 20 years ago.
"I didn't go to hospital for treatment at the beginning, because I thought since I was no longer young, it might be normal to feel a little off color,” Maimaiti said, adding that he didn’t thought the illness got worse and started to cause inconvenience in his daily life.
Pishan county was once severely impoverished and has long been troubled by a high incidence of diseases related to hip and knee joints due to reasons including the harsh natural conditions.
Because of limited local medical conditions, some patients had to travel more than 100 kilometres to Hotan city or even more than 1,000 kilometres to Urumqi, capital of Xinjiang, to seek treatment for their diseases, which not only cost too much, but could easily cause delay in treatment.
In recent years, Xinjiang has made continuous efforts to deepen the implementation of a program aimed at alleviating poverty by improving health care, and moved faster to improve the capacity of grass-roots medical facilities through the assistance provided by other provincial-level regions in China under the country’s pairing assistance strategy.
In September 2017, a new branch of the People's Hospital of Pishan County, which was built with the help of east China's Anhui province, was put into operation, significantly improving health care services for local people.
Starting from May 2018, the People's Hospital of Pishan County has received tailored assistance from the People's Hospital of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, with the latter helping improve the management capabilities of the former by dispatching management teams and groups of medical experts to it.
Meanwhile, People's Hospital of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region has also leveraged the medical experts sent from Anhui province to Xinjiang to conduct medical consultations and ward rounds, organize lectures for local medical workers, and perform operations at the People's Hospital of Pishan County.
As the People's Hospital of Pishan County became able to treat common and frequently-occurring illnesses, Maimaiti decided to go to the hospital for treatment.
After careful examination, the hospital suggested that he receive joint replacement surgery. Maimaiti took the advice and decided to have one leg cured first.
"I recovered soon after the surgery. It cost a total of 52,000 yuan (about $8,078), and I only needed to pay 8,000 yuan after medical insurance reimbursement," he said.
In June 2020, Anhui province invested one million yuan to screen senior residents from 16 townships of Pishan county for joint diseases and help them receive joint replacement surgeries.
Maimaiti took the opportunity and had his second leg cured too. This time he didn't spend a cent on the medical services, as the cost of the surgery was fully covered by the fund provided by Anhui province.
"Both legs have recovered well from the operations. I now have no problem walking, or even driving," Maimaiti told Xu Yanguo, deputy head of the People's Hospital of Pishan County as well as leader of the medial team sent by Anhui province to Xinjiang. He told Xu that he recently bought a car and is thinking about making road trips with his family.
To equip local medical workers with various professional skills, doctors from Anhui province have tailored training plans for them, including taking them to make ward rounds and giving lectures to them.
According to Xu, the People's Hospital of Pishan County has also adopted telemedicine technology so that patients in critical condition and those suffering from rare illnesses can receive timely treatment.
Last year, the hospital further enriched its medical services and made its telemedicine services more efficient and intelligent by enhancing the construction of smart facilities.
* This article was published in partnership with People’s Daily Online SA.