LANZHOU, Feb. 17 (Xinhua) -- Xu Mingwei is spending his second Spring Festival away from home in Madagascar.
Xu, 55, is a physician from the Second People's Hospital in northwest China's Gansu Province. He is among the 21st group of Chinese doctors sent by the Gansu provincial government to provide medical aid to Madagascar.
In November, 2016, he arrived in the country for a two-year mission.
"This is the second time he has volunteered in the medical program. He went to Madagascar ten years ago," said Xu's wife, Zhou Jinhuan, a nurse in the cardiovascular department at the same hospital.
""He insisted on going this time because he said doctors are more needed there in anywhere else," Zhou said.
"Ten years ago, it took days to send a letter to him, now the biggest comfort is that we can video chat on a daily basis," she said.
Zhou spent 12 days visiting her husband before the Spring Festival. "We both wanted to stay together to spend the Chinese Lunar New Year, but I also have to visit my elderly family members," Zhou said.
Xu works at Anosiala hospital, about 15 kilometers from the capital Antananarivo.
"We have many local patients as well as staff from Chinese organizations. I work as a general practitioner here because doctors are in high demand. Sometimes we also treat pediatric illnesses," said Xu.
Last August, there was an outbreak of air-borne plague in the area. "When I heard about the plague, my heart almost stopped. I had to call him every day to remind him to protect himself," Zhou said.
Xu and his fellow doctors often skip lunch because there are too many patients. They also provide medical advice to patients over the phone.
The Chinese government began providing medical aid to African countries in 1963. Over more than 50 years, Chinese medical teams have worked in 50 countries and regions in Africa.
Gansu began providing medical aid to Madagascar in 1975. So far, it has sent 600 doctors to the country. The doctors have treated 4.5 million patients and saved 65,000 people from critical conditions. They have performed over 120,000 surgeries, according to statistics from the Gansu Health and Family Planning Commission.
"We have many doctors like Xu working during the holiday. Thanks to their hard work, people can get the help they need," said Liang Baoping, director of the commission's international exchange and cooperation department.