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Over 250 Chinese doctors provided medical assistance to Guyana over last 30 years

…18th Chinese Medical Team treated over 10,000 patients in 2023

By Pooja Rambaran

Head of the 18th Chinese Medical Brigade, Dr. Chu Xuehui

Following its one-year stint in Guyana, the 18th Chinese Medical Brigade is set to return home later this month, after performing some 2,500 surgeries and treating over 10,000 patients throughout the country.
In addition, the team hosted several training sessions to improve healthcare services in Guyana.
This year is particularly meaningful for the team, as it marks the 30th year since China has been providing medical assistance to Guyana through its revolving door of medical brigades.
The team started with eight members back in 1993 and eventually increased to 16 in 2023. During that period, a total of 263 doctors have visited Guyana to offer their expertise.
General Surgeon Dr. Chu Xuehui is leading the current team, which is specialised in general surgery, burns and plastic surgery, orthopaedics, nephrology, acupuncture and moxibustion therapy, radiology, ophthalmology, obstetrics and gynaecology, anesthesiology and pathology.
“I really enjoy working with my Guyanese colleagues. They are very diligent and responsible. We’ve carried out a lot of complex surgeries together, so I think we have good collaboration,” Xuehui told <<Guyana Times>> during an interview on Wednesday.
Within Dr Xuehui’s team, 11 persons work primarily out of the Georgetown Public Hospital (GPHC), while the remaining five work at the Linden Hospital in Region Ten (Upper Demerara-Berbice).
Since their arrival in Guyana, they’ve seen over 5000 in-patients and 5000 outpatients, who most commonly require gallbladder, breast, thyroid and hernia surgeries.
Dr Xuehui has said there were instances when the team encountered complex cases which required an added level of precision and expertise, including whipple surgery to treat tumours and other conditions in the pancreas, small intestine and bile ducts, and hepatectomy to treat liver haemangiomas.
“Through the efforts of the previous teams, I think the medical system in Guyana has improved gradually. The Guyanese doctors can do lots of operations now by themselves – not just the four common operations, but they can do some complex surgeries like the resection of the stomach for colon diseases, and they can even do some laparoscopic surgeries. So, there’s been great progress,” Dr Xuehui has pointed out.

Training and outreaches
Chinese Medical team members continuously make efforts to upskill the Guyanese doctors they work with, not just at the GPHC and Linden Hospital, but also in regional hospitals across the country.
“[Our team] has carried out many training sessions because the ultimate goal is not to do the surgeries ourselves, but we want to teach the local doctors to do the surgeries too,” he said.
Most recently, the brigade’s Resident Training Programme saw its second set of graduates whereby these 13 doctors received a six-month training aimed towards improving their clinical diagnosis and treatment skills.
Dr. Xuehui further noted that the team donated laparoscopic trainers as they move to train young surgeons, obstetricians and gynaecologists at the GPHC to enhance their surgical skills.
Complementing these efforts, about 50 doctors from GPHC, Linden Hospital, West Demerara Hospital in Region Three (Essequibo Islands-West Demerara) and New Amsterdam Hospital in Region Six (East Berbice-Corentyne) attended a laparoscopic training workshop facilitated by the Chinese medical team.
Meanwhile, in a new initiative, five doctors from the Georgetown Hospital are expected to travel to China next year to receive further training and professional experience, as the medical brigade and China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) have established a scholarship programme.
“Previously, the model was that China would send doctors to Guyana to help, [but] after the establishment of the scholarship, we can send some Guyanese doctors to China. I think that’s very useful and meaningful,” Dr Xuehui has said.
Within this three-month programme, the selected doctors will travel to China where they will be seconded to the Nanjing Drum Tower Hospital.
Further, the Chinese Medical team has conducted over 10 outreaches countrywide for 2023 so far. Some of these areas include Anna Regina in Region Two (Pomeroon-Supenaam), Leonora in Region Three, Moraikobai in Region Five (Mahaica-Berbice), New Amsterdam in Region Six, Lethem in Region Nine (Upper Takutu-Upper Essequibo), Linden and Kwakwani in Region Ten (Upper Demerara-Berbice).
Dr. Xuehui has described his one-year stint as unforgettable. The team returns to China on September 26. A new 16-member team is expected to arrive in Guyana on September 22.