17 Afghan children underwent lifesaving heart surgeries in China


BEIJING, Sep 7 (APP): Doctors in northwestern China have performed
lifesaving surgeries on 17 Afghan children with congenital heart disease, the first of many expected to receive help through an ongoing Red Cross program.
It comes after a Chinese medical team visited Kabul, the capital of
Afghanistan, late last month to prepare desperately ill youngsters to be flown to China for free advanced treatment.
The first group of 21 children, aged 2 to 14, arrived at the First
Affiliated Hospital of Xinjiang Medical University on August 30.
As of Monday, 17 had undergone successful operations and were recovering
well, according to Zhang Haibo, head surgeon for the program told the local media on Thursday.
The children and their guardians were expected to stay at the hospital
for 15 days, during which staff members will help them to relax in their new environment.
The Red Cross Society of China, which runs the humanitarian program, has
said it aims to initially help about 100 children.
The Red Crescent Society of Afghanistan estimates nearly 7,000 Afghan
children with congenital heart disease are in urgent need of treatment.
Doctors from Shanghai, Beijing and Xinjiang arrived at Kabul Royal
Hospital to start screening children for the program on Aug 26.
To get there, they traveled in armored vehicles, as suicide bombings and
kidnappings are still a threat in the city. However, personal safety was not their major concern.
The program is backed by the Belt and Road Fraternity Fund, which the
Chinese Red Cross Foundation launched in February to support humanitarian activities and cooperation in countries involved in the Belt and Road Initiative.
The fund, mostly made up of donations from Chinese corporations, has
become a new channel for domestic enterprises to perform humanitarian work, according to Wang Ping, the society’s vice-president.
Military conflicts, natural disasters and uneven socioeconomic
development are common in countries and regions along the proposed Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, which means local demand for humanitarian aid is immense, he said.
Using the fund, the foundation established an emergency care center at
Pakistan’s Gwadar Port in May in cooperation with its local counterpart, the Pakistan Red Crescent Society.
As China’s largest humanitarian group, the Red Cross Society is a major
platform for boosting people-to-people diplomacy, as it can rally nongovernmental resources as well as boost communication and cooperation at the individual level, Wang said. It is also more likely to be well received by local communities, he added.
As the first 21 children recover from vital treatment and get ready to
return to Afghanistan, another group is preparing to head to China.