KAMPALA, Uganda - Healthcare provisions in Africa are one of the toughest hurdles that governments have to contend with.
Many medical centers across the continent are constrained by a lack of medicine, personnel and equipment. In Uganda, a Chinese medical team together with their local counterparts are determined to change the status quo.
One step at a time and with increased government support, the experts believe healthcare provisions in the east African country can improve.
In the acupuncture ward at China-Uganda Friendship Hospital located in the capital Kampala, there is no empty bed.
Patients line up outside the ward waiting for their treatment.
Inside the ward, 43-year-old Ni Wei is busy inserting acupuncture needles and carefully monitoring patients.
In a day, he works on close to 30 patients, many of whom come for pain relief.
Although the workload has been heavy, Ni has never turned town a patient. Many of them are referred from different parts of the country.
Jamila Nagawa, 34, said that she has been getting acupuncture sessions since January. Her vision was impaired due to an accident. After being treated at Mulago National Referral Hospital, she was sent to Ni for further treatment.
"I have slowly regained my eye sight," Nagawa said.
Betty Jurua, 68, heard about acupuncture in her home area Arua, about 500 km northwest of Kampala.
"I had pain from my right hand caused by blood pressure. I tried everything but it failed," she said. "Then I started getting acupuncture. I am now improving. I can now move and work."
In the surgical ward, Yang Jun is preparing to carry out an operation while an intern briefs him on the progress in preparing the patient.
On average, surgeon Yang carries out about six operations a week and sees 40 to 60 patients in a weekly clinic.
He said although the workload is not heavy for him, most of the time is lost through translation.
"Many local people do not speak English very well. I often spend extra time to communicate with them. The most important thing we care about is the patient," he said. "The equipment here is not as good as in China. But we don't care much about the circumstances."
Besides operations and diagnoses, Yang also has the responsibility of training intern doctors that have been posted at the hospital.
Yang said the transfer of skills is one of the critical goals of the Chinese medical team. Training someone allows that person to train someone else, causing a ripple effect, he said.
Edward Kyomugisha, a senior consultant surgeon, said the Chinese medical teams have played an important role at the China-Uganda Friendship Hospital.
"The Chinese medical team is a great relief to the workforce here. We can afford to have five clinics for patients every week. Before, we used to have, like, two clinics a week. Each clinic is full of patients," Kyomugisha said.
"Personally, I am not experienced in laparoscopy, but I am learning from the team."