JUBA, June 21 (Xinhua) -- When Chinese gynecologists Cheng Hong and Xu Dahua arrived in South Sudan in May, the pair found several women suffering from illnesses that could easily be treated using alternative medications such as traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) instead of relying on western medicines alone.
But the Chinese medics had limited options to help because TCM remains rare in the east African country. Like in many parts of Africa, TCM remains unknown to many people in South Sudan despite its introduction to the world's youngest nation nearly seven years ago.
As part of the seventh batch of Chinese doctors who arrived in South Sudan in May, Cheng and Xu have embarked on a mission to popularize the use of TCM in South Sudan.
The medics from China's eastern province of Anhui said they are working with local doctors to promote the use of TCM in South Sudan's healthcare system.
"In the future, we are expecting to use the traditional Chinese medicine to treat people in the gynecology department because many female diseases can be treated using the traditional Chinese therapy," said Xu.
The Chinese doctors said they want to first polarize the use of the TCM in one of South Sudan's biggest health facilities, the Juba Teaching Hospital before moving to other areas.
Xu said TCM would be helpful to the people of South Sudan because it can be used to treat various diseases such as pelvic inflammation disease and dysmenorrhoea, which are common diseases affecting women.
TCM involves various forms of herbal medicine, acupuncture, massage, exercise, and dietary therapy.
Among the various TCM remedies, acupuncture, used in the treatment of body pains and several physical and emotional illnesses through pricking the skin or tissues with needles has so far gained popularity in South Sudan.
Speaking at a reception ceremony for the 7th batch of the Chinese medical team on May 4, South Sudan's health minister Riek Gai Kok announced that the country seeks to increase the use of TCM in its health facilities as an alternative.
With the door now open, Cheng said it's now the responsibility of the Chinese doctors to promote TCM in South Sudan.
"We need to do our best to find many kinds of cases from our patients so we can use our traditional medicine," said Cheng. "We need more people to come, know this therapy so that they can use it to treat diseases."
Since 2013, Chinese doctors have offered free medical services across South Sudan and also helped with capacity building of health workers.
The seventh batch of the China medical team, composed of 13 specialists and two support staff are currently stationed at Juba Teaching and Referral Hospital but will be conducting routine outreach programs during their one-year stay in South Sudan.