Hospital gets makeover with Xi’s help

VIENTIANE (China Daily/ANN) - President Xi Jinping and Laotian President Bounnhang Vorachith jointly attended a ceremony on Tuesday to start the project of modernising a century-old hospital in Vientiane with Chinese assistance.

The two leaders laid the cornerstone for the upgrade project of Mahosot Hospital, which was the first hospital in Laos, built in 1910.

With a total cost of 700 million yuan ($105 million), the renovated hospital will have 600 beds. In addition to building a new structure, China also will donate new medical equipment to the hospital. The renovation is scheduled to be finished in 2021.

After the ceremony, Xi and Bounnhang talked with Chinese ophthalmologists who were on an assistance project to remove Laotian peoples’ cataracts for free.

Xi called the Chinese doctors ambassadors for brightness and friendship, saying they have not only brought sight to Laotian patients, but also contributed to the friendship between the people of the two countries.

With Xi and Bounnhang looking on, Chinese medical workers removed the bandages of two Laotian patients — retired teacher Malaisouk, 71, and retired soldier Khamsieng, 77 — who have recovered from treatment for cataracts.

Xi congratulated them on their regained eyesight and wished them a healthy life.

The Chinese president said he paid much attention to improving people’s livelihoods in China’s overseas assistance projects.

In Laos, China’s assistant funds will mainly be used to improve health conditions, build infrastructure for rural areas and alleviate poverty, Xi said.

The assistance should focus on not only hardware and facilities like modern buildings but also software services, Xi said. He also encouraged more policy exchanges between the health authorities of the two countries.

Bounthaphany Bounxouei, director general of Mahosot Hospital, said the hospital will be upgraded to international standards.

“We hope that it will attract more people to receive treatment at the hospital. It will also reduce people crossing the border for medical treatment in neighboring countries,” he told the Laotian Times.

Zhang Shunhua, an associate professor from Peking Union Medical College Hospital’s Ophthalmology Department, said she arrived at Mahosot Hospital on Nov 5 with 13 other Chinese doctors and nurses. The Chinese medical team is expected to conduct operations on hundreds of local cataract patients during their stay of about half a month, she said.

Since her arrival, she has completed more than 60 operations, she said.

“Compared with cases in Beijing, patients here in general had more serious conditions, which demand higher skills,” she said. “Many of them had their conditions worsened due to delays seeing a doctor.”

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