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Foreign doctors flow into China

Reporter: Lin Nan 丨 CCTV.com

04-09-2014 13:57 BJT

An increasing number overseas-educated physicians are not only providing patients with alternative treatment plans, they are also challenging existing health care concepts.

37-year-old Wang Rui looks fit and refreshed as he rides a stationary bike. He’s made a remarkable recovery since suffering a heart attack and open-heart surgery two month ago.

"After the surgery, my doctor told me I would live like an old man for the rest of my life. I would only be able to walk slowly and couldn’t do other exercises. I don’t want that kind of life. I like playing football, swimming and going to the gym. But that was the mainstream medical opinion held by most of the Chinese doctors." Wang said.

Wang’s workout is part of his heart rehabilitation program. It’s designed to lessen his chances of having another heart attack and is an often-recommended course of treatment in Western countries. Chinese doctors rarely prescribe a program of rigorous exercise for patients with a history of heart trouble. Doctor Glenn Schweighardt is hoping to change their minds and give heart patients a new lease on life.

"A hundreds of thousands...millions of patients that need this care. And the thing is here in China, they don’t even know that they need it. So there is a lot of public education that really needs to go on." Dr. Glenn Schweighardt with Shanghai Deltawest Clinic said.

Recent years have seen a number of doctors from abroad coming to practice in China. The rising demand for medical services has facilitated their arrival. Alongside providing advanced treatment for patients who can afford it, they hope, they can contribute with their knowledge and experience, in Chinese hospitals.

Dr. Gilbert Shia relocated from the UK to Beijing in 2008 to open a clinic targeting ex-pats and wealthier Chinese.

"In around 2005, 2006, the government was talking about another round of health reform because of different problems. And they were promoting primary care, family medicine, community care, trying to swift from patients attending hospitals to going to their community health centers. And because I myself is a GP, so I thought there was something I can do here." Dr. Gilbert Shia said.

Shia also works as a consultant in a community health center in Beijing, where he helps his partners understand Western ideas about diabetes prevention among the elderly.

"With his experience in the UK, his ideas and treatments of chronic disease have inspired us a lot." Zhang Songqing, family doctor with Shuangyushu Community Health Service Center,said.

Foreign doctors have to obtain a license to practice in China and renew it every year. Despite the hassles, Shia says he has never regretted his move.

"I know what I learnt in Britain is put in very good use, and is helping the country to turn the page, to the better lives of people. And I know back home, my teachers, my professors who have taught me will take pride in what I am doing now." Dr. Gilbert Shia said.

Business opportunities and job-satisfaction appear to be the main drivers that are bringing foreign doctors to China and many patients, like Wang Rui, are happy they can now get an alternative,’Westernized’ treatment plan. 

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