Across China: Doctor dedicates career to remote mountain village

Source: Xinhua| 2017-10-08 20:58:06|Editor: Xiang Bo
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HEFEI, Oct. 8 (Xinhua) -- Local people in Haidao Village in east China's Anhui Province call the village "an isolated island in the sea." The village is located deep in the mountains near the Xianghongdian Reservoir. A houseboat has been docked for nearly 20 years in the east of the reservoir.

Yu Jiajun, 39, is the houseboat's owner and the only doctor in Haidao village, which is home to more than 200 people.

In 1999, Yu graduated from Lu'an Medical School and settled with his wife on the houseboat. He named the boat "Haidao Clinic."

For the past 18 years, he has rowed the small wooden boat every day to see his patients. Haidao villagers call it the "water ambulance."

There are 55 households in Haidao with a population of more than 200 people. In recent years, many young people have gone to work in big cities, leaving behind over 100 old men, women and children at home.

"There was no clinic in the past. Villagers had to walk and row for hours to go to the hospital in town," Yu recalled.

"I still remember when I was in junior school. A snake bit a villager and he died on the road to hospital. At that moment, I decided to study medicine and open a clinic in my hometown," said Yu.

Zhan Guangfu has spent all his life in Haidao Village and is impressed by how the clinic has changed life for the villagers.

"Doctor Yu did much more for my father than I did," said Zhan Longxiang, son of Zhan Guangfu.

Zhan Longxiang and his wife all worked in a faraway city. In 2007, his mother got sick and Yu took care of her for more than seven hours until Zhan returned home. After that, Yu came to see her every week until she died four years later.

As more and more young people leave for big cities, Yu has been reluctant to leave the clinic and his patients, according to Yu's wife, Wu Qijiao.

Years ago, Wu's brother asked the couple to help him with business, promising a monthly salary of 5,000 yuan. But Yu chose to stay at his clinic because "my patients want me to stay."

In 2009, the Haidao clinic became one of the designated medical organizations in Jinzhai County. Local authorities offered free computers and Internet for Yu to help villagers report medical expenses.

In 2016, Chinese authorities released guidelines to extend family doctor services to ensure more convenient health services for residents who have signed contracts with family doctors.

According to the guidelines, family doctors, including general practitioners registered with grassroots health institutions and qualified doctors at township clinics and village doctors, shall provide basic medical care and other health services for residents.

As one of the qualified village doctors, Yu signed contracts with 172 villagers in Haidao, offering six door-to-door medical services per year, such as measuring blood pressure and heart rate.

"People enjoy better medical care in villages since we introduced family doctor services," said Yu. "But we have more work as there are not enough qualified village doctors."

Jinzhai County now has about 878 village doctors and half of them are aged 40 to 60 years old.

"I hope the government can roll out more policies to improve basic health service for villagers," said Yu. "At the same time, village doctors can have a better quality of life to attract more people to serve people in isolated places."