Home FOCAC Focus Chinese medical teams are beating down maternal mortality in Burundi

Chinese medical teams are beating down maternal mortality in Burundi


Maternal mortality in Burundi has declined thanks to a program which is implemented at the regional hospital of Gitega, which is based in the province of Gitega, central Burundi, a Chinese medical expert told Xinhua in an interview recently.

   Sun Bin, the leader of the current 21st mission of the Chinese medical team, was referring to resolutions of the summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) held in 2022 during which China pledged to support Africa in improving maternal health by reducing maternal and infant mortality rates.

   The interview was done on the sidelines of the celebration of the Chinese New Year, which will fall on Sunday, at the Chinese Embassy in Kiriri residential area, in the zone of Rohero, district of Mukaza, in the commercial capital of Bujumbura.

   “In Burundi, pregnant women are not well taken care of in health structures and this often leads to their death or the death of their babies. The health of mothers and children needs to be improved in Burundi,” said Sun. “We are here in Burundi since July 2022 and we are assisting patients in three health facilities, namely at the Gitega Regional Hospital, at Mpanda General Hospital, and at Prince Regent Charles Hospital in Bujumbura.”

   According to him, the team dispatched to the three hospitals is made up of approximately 29 Chinese doctors with different specializations including specialists in radiography, ultrasound, otolaryngology, stomatology, orthopedics, surgery, ophthalmology, and general medicine.

   For 36 years, more than 364 Chinese physicians have come to Burundi in those missions, said Sun, noting that each team spends a year in Burundi before returning to China in line with a protocol signed by both sides.

   He indicated that the protocol also provides among other things the sending of Burundian doctors and students to China to be trained in different medical fields.

   “Our objective is that after the training, the trained professionals return to Burundi to implement techniques learned in China and help their countrymates,” said Sun.

   He appreciated the cooperation with the Burundian health personnel, stressing that Chinese medical teams enjoy working with Burundian doctors because they are intelligent and efficient.

   He underlined that since 1987, Burundian and Chinese doctors cooperate “not as simple friends, but as brothers.”

   “We will continue to cooperate in order to strengthen our friendship,” said Sun.

   He indicated that since he arrived in Burundi, he has identified main frequent pathologies in six fields including gynecology, otolaryngology, stomatology, pediatrics, orthopedics, and surgery.

   Apart from modern medicine, the team also has experts in Chinese traditional medicine.

   “Our traditional medicine is strong. We are aware that it helps a lot, and there is a big demand here. That’s why we came with specialists in traditional medicine and they are helping Burundian people,” said Sun.

   Patients who received assistance from the Chinese medical team highly commend Chinese doctors for their professionalism.

   “I arrived here (at the hospital) Sunday and I was immediately operated on as I had prostate cancer. Chinese doctors put me under anesthesia and operated on me. Everything went well, and I feel better now,” Prosper Nzirakuya, a 70-year-old patient admitted at Prince Regent Charles Hospital in Bujumbura, told Xinhua. He said that he was referred from Nyarusera health facility in Muramvya province, central Burundi, after the medical staff at that facility realized that they were not capable of sufficiently assisting him.

   “If I get out of this hospital in good shape, I will tell sick people that Chinese doctors assisted me a lot and I will encourage them to go and seek their services,” said Nzirakuya.

   Willy Mundanikure, a 33-year-old man who had a broken leg following a car accident in Bujumbura, told Xinhua “A Chinese doctor has just operated on one of my legs. I arrived at this hospital last week, but because there were a lot of interventions, my operation happened today. I am glad that the operation succeeded and the suffering has reduced.”

   Elias Tanu, a 62-year-old man from Makamba province, south Burundi, was operated on gluteal bedsore at Prince Regent Charles Hospital.

   “My legs have been paralyzed for over one year and six months and due to lying on the bed for a long time, I have gluteal bedsores and Chinese doctors are helping me a lot,” he said, noting that one of his two operations succeeded.

    “These Chinese doctors came in the context of technical cooperation. We learn from them and they also learn from us. We share experience and this is really profitable,” said Sony Nahayo, a urologist at Prince Regent Charles Hospital.

   Information provided by the Chinese Embassy in Burundi shows that more than 1.13 million patients have been assisted by Chinese medical teams since 1987, while more than 1,000 Burundian medical staff members have been trained during the same period.

   Burundi also benefited from Chinese assistance in terms of medical equipment and vaccines during the COVID-19 outbreak.

   In her remarks during the celebration of the Chinese New Year, Wang Yuan, the charge d’affaires at the Chinese Embassy in Burundi, commended the cooperation between both countries.

   “China and Burundi firmly support each other on issues targeting vital interests and on major concerns for both countries that together defend international justice and equity,” said Wang.

   According to her, since the arrival of the 21st mission of the Chinese physicians in Burundi in July last year, 8,439 patients were received and treated and 1,747 operations were made.

   Ferdinand Bashikako, the permanent secretary at the Burundian Foreign Affairs Ministry, congratulated the Chinese people on the New Year celebrations, saying that China is “a partner full of attention and concerns for Burundi.”

   Burundi and China are marking 60 years of the establishment of bilateral ties this year. Since 1963, China has been supporting the East African nation in such sectors as health, infrastructure, agriculture, energy, and education. 



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