Experts from the Chinese Red Cross foreign aid medical team carry out screening for children with congenial heart disease (CHD) at a hospital in Kabul, Afghanistan, Aug. 26, 2017. (Xinhua/Dai He)
by Abdul Haleem
KABUL, Aug. 27 (Xinhua) -- "My daughter has been suffering severe heart disease since her infancy, but I couldn't treat her because of intense economic problem," 45-year-old Mohammad told Xinhua.
A resident of Samangan province, Mohammad has taken his seven-year-old daughter, Marwa, to check with Chinese doctors. He said he was thankful to neighboring China for sending a medical team to Kabul.
In war-torn Afghanistan, most parents of children with severe heart diseases are unable to provide treatment to their beloved ones due to extreme poverty.
"I took my daughter to Balkh provincial hospital in Mazar-e-Sharif city some two months ago, but doctors there advised me to take her to Kabul for checkup," Mohammad said.
He whispered that he was very happy that Chinese medical team checked her daughter here in Kabul free of charge.
Before the Chinese medical team arrived, Afghans used to take their children suffering from Congenital Heart Disease (CHD) to Germany and India with the support of the Afghan Red Crescent Society for treatment.
This is the first time that a Chinese medical team has visited Kabul to provide medical treatment to needy children suffering from heart diseases.
Zahra Faizi, mother of six-year-old girl Marwa Mirahmad, is another Afghan who has taken her child to see Chinese doctors.
"After almost two days of traveling from the western Herat city, I arrived in Kabul to meet the Chinese physicians and seek their assistance for the recovery of my child," Faizi told Xinhua in the hospital where she was visiting the Chinese medical team.
"We are poor and have no money. I want my daughter to be treated free of charge," she muttered.
She noted that all Afghans, especially the poor and needy parents, are thankful to China for sending the medical team to help ailing children in their country.
A 10-member team of medical practitioners from China arrived in Kabul recently to help children with severe heart diseases during its 10-day stay in Afghanistan.
Based in a local health center - the Kabul Royal Hospital, the team checks up to 50 children in every two days. It has also promised to send some children to China for further treatment if their conditions require.
Another man, Fazal Ahmad, has also expressed happiness at seeing Chinese doctors in Afghanistan, saying the presence of the Chinese medical team has raised hope in his heart that his daughter could recover.
"I have no money to afford medical treatment for my daughter Asia who is six. But now I am sure my daughter will get her health back with the support of Chinese doctors," Ahmad told Xinhua.
"The situation in Afghanistan and the poor condition of parents who are in dire need of medication for their ailing children have drawn the attention of China's Red Cross Society, which has decided to send a medical team to Afghanistan," Sun Shuopeng, head of the team, told Xinhua.
He added that his team had recently launched the "Angels Tour -- Belt and Road Humanitarian Rescue Afghanistan Action for Children with Severe Diseases" in the Kabul Royal Hospital.
Under the initiative, the Chinese Red Cross foreign aid medical team will take CHD children who are screened in accordance with surgical indications in batches to China to receive free surgical treatment, Sun said.
The Chinese Red Cross Foundation established the Belt and Road Fraternity Fund in February and is committed to optimizing the humanitarian service supply along the Belt and Road routes.
Screening for CHD children in Afghanistan is the beginning of a humanitarian rescue program by the fund.
Nearly 7,000 Afghan children with the CHD are waiting for urgent treatment, according to figures provided by the Afghan Red Crescent Society.
Proposed by China in 2013, the Belt and Road initiative refers to the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road.