Feature: Chinese hospital ship offers needy Ecuadorians life-changing medical care

Source: Xinhua| 2018-11-19 17:11:31|Editor: Liangyu
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GUAYAQUIL, Ecuador, Nov. 18 (Xinhua) -- Scores of ailing Ecuadorians from low-income households have received free medical care from Chinese naval hospital ship Peace Ark since it docked at Ecuador's western port of Guayaquil on Thursday.

Zoila Carranza, a 75-year-old resident of Guayaquil's populous Guasmo Sur neighborhood, received sight-saving cataract surgery recently, after years of impaired vision.

The ship's arrival "has been a great blessing," her daughter Glerida Palma told Xinhua, as she stood by her mother's bedside.

On board, the medical staff has been working nonstop to serve the large number of patients, who were previously selected with the help of local health agencies.

Patients accompanied by family waited patiently in the hallways of the floating hospital, among them Estela de Rojas, whose husband, 57, was about to undergo gallstone surgery that had been put off due to a lack of money.

"He has been suffering pain from severe colic for more than a year, and they (local doctors) would only give him sedatives," said De Rojas.

"The Chinese ship's arrival is a blessing ... I even cried from joy when they told me that he was going to be operated on by Chinese (doctors)," she said.

This is Peace Ark's first visit to Ecuador, being part of a multinational humanitarian mission, dubbed Harmony 2018. It has brought free medical care to Venezuela, the Dominican Republic and other countries.

The 120-strong Chinese staff, including 57 doctors, 36 pharmacists and 27 nurses, treats patients aboard the fully-equipped vessel featuring eight operating rooms, 300 hospital beds and a helicopter ambulance.

The doctors specialize in numerous fields, including neurology, gastroenterology, physiotherapy, traditional Chinese medicine, infectious diseases, reconstructive surgery and burns.

Liu Min, in charge of the ship's pharmacy, said "there are many medications" as well as "traditional (Chinese) medicine to alleviate many pains. It is a very, very complete pharmacy."

Peace Ark's doctors are expected to attend some 4,000 patients during the week-long stay in the country, and perform some 70 surgeries, according to the Chinese embassy in Ecuador.

The hospital's general director Zhang Congxin said cataract surgery was in most demand.

Ecuador is the 42nd country visited by the Peace Ark since its launch in 2008. The hospital ship has provided medical service to more than 220,000 people around the world.