A group of children suffering from congenital heart disease in Laos is receiving treatment in Kunming, the provincial capital of southwest China’s Yunnan Province, free of charge through a program named “Love Heart Journey” in Lao. The program aims to promote people-to-people bonds between the two neighbors under the Belt and Road Initiative.
The five children, aged between eight months and 12 years old, arrived in the city with their parents on Monday by taking the China-Laos Railway, which opened in December 2021.
“I’m happy that my child has the opportunity to receive treatment in China. I hope she will live a normal life as other children,” said Xonglinghoua, mother of 12-year-old Nindaphoy Kosada, who suffers from atrial septal defect.
The program has been jointly launched by China Charity Federation, the Yunnan provincial government, and Yunnan Fuwai Cardiovascular Hospital (YFCH).
“Based on our preliminary check, surgeries for these children won’t be a challenge to us,” said Lu Jiang, assistant to the hospital’s president, noting that they have performed cardiac operations for more than 5,000 children since its establishment.
“When they are discharged from the hospital, we will accompany them back and conduct regular follow-up checks for them in the years to come,” Lu told CGTN.
In June, a team of medics from the hospital went to different parts of Laos, where they screened some 6,000 children and treated three patients on a mobile medical vehicle.
Beelao Cherhoualor is a cardiac surgeon from the Mahosot Hospital in Vientiane, built by China as a landmark Belt and Road project. He told CGTN that only a few hospitals in Vientiane are able to perform color Doppler ultrasounds, and no hospital can operate on children with heart diseases.
“This program is very helpful to Laos. I hope our two countries will have long-term medical cooperation,” said the Laotian doctor.
“I also try to take this opportunity to learn from my Chinese peers, as our hospitals are relatively small and still lag behind in terms of related medical technologies,” he added.
Yunnan is considered China’s gateway to South Asia and Southeast Asia, bordering Laos, Vietnam and Myanmar. Previously, the YFCH has also carried out related programs in the other two neighboring countries and treated some 110 children.
“Apart from this, we also have training programs. So far, more than 10 doctors from six countries have finished training in our hospital,” said Lu.