On May 9, 2015, the Fifth Chinese (Hunan) Medical Team to Aid Sierra Leone against Ebola, organized by the Health and Family Planning Commission of Hunan Province under the designation of the National Health and Family Planning Commission of China and led by Xiangya Hospital of CSU, set off for Sierra Leone in response to the national call.
More than 50 days of arduous work on the continent of Africa thousands of miles far away from China saw the world love of 40 team members, who inherited and carried forward the spirit of international humanitarian with superb medical skills and soldiers’ bravery, completed such missions as successful treatment of three confirmed cases of Ebola, transformation of Sino-Sierra Leone Friendship Hospital and inventory and hand-over of 15000 surplus materials to aid Sierra Leone against Ebola, made gratifying achievements of “ victorious battle, zero infection, all cured” and were widely praised by the international community.
On the afternoon of July 23, the end of a 21-day centralized medical isolation after returning ushered a grand awards ceremony, jointly held by the National Health and Family Planning Commission of China, the Hunan provincial government, the Health and Family Planning Commission of Hunan Province, Central South University and Xiangya Hospital, for the Fifth Chinese (Hunan) Medical Team to Aid Sierra Leone against Ebola. Then 6 supporting units, Xiangya Hospital of CSU included, and the medical staff, such as Qiu Yuanzheng were commended.
The medical team, commissioned by the National Health and Family Planning Commission of China and mainly made up of medical staff (18) from Xiangya Hospital, is under the general leadership of Fang Yibing, Deputy Director of the provincial Health and Family Planning Commission, and takes Qiu Yuanzheng, Assistant to the Dean of Xiangya Hospital, as team leader. Besides, its 40 medical staff, from Xiangya Hospital of CSU, Hunan Provincial People’s Hospital, the First Hospital of Changsha, Hunan Provincial Center for Disease Control and Prevention and People’s Liberation Army 302 Hospital, are carefully selected medical technicians with high political accomplishment, strong operational capacity and good physical conditions.
In early May, the end of a five-day enclosed intensive training, simulation exercises and assessment saw the batch-wise departure of medical staff for Sierra Leone.
Sierra Leone has a high incidence of infectious diseases, especially malaria, typhoid and AIDS. The early summer when the medical team arrived there was just the rainy season in Sierra Leone, which provides “soil” for epidemics so that medical staff must also resist other infections in the fight against Ebola. The arrival in Sierra Leone plunged some team members into varying degrees of cold, fever, diarrhea and other symptoms. What’s worse, in the hot Africa, the outdoor temperature maintained above 30 degrees almost every day. Every day in the quarantine ward without air conditioning, the medical staff had to work more than one hour wearing four-layer thick protective suits. However, in face of difficulties, they knew well work environment and processes in a week and quickly completed the comprehensive handover with the last medical team from Jiangsu.
Since May 13, the medical team and the nursing group respectively headed by Professor Huang Yan, Director of Department of Infectious Diseases of Xiangya Hospital, CSU and Deng Guiyuan, Deputy Matron of Department of Cardiology, have treated a total of 39 suspected Ebola patients, among which 3 Ebola diagnosed patients have been cured and discharged. It is reported that two of the three patients were with severe Ebola. One was a female patient who was abandoned by her families that at the beginning she once refused treatment due to psychological despair but was eventually cured and discharged under careful medical treatment after experiencing a shock, concurrent infection , renal failure and internal environment disorders; the other was a 73-year-old patient with such severe underlying diseases as heart failure, kidney failure and breathing difficulties, who was unconscious at the admission but was finally cured and discharged after the negative change of virus under the direct command of Fang Yibing, medical team leader and Captain Qiu Yuanzheng and by the efforts of all members of the health care group.
What’s more, 40 medical staff, even the medical, nursing and infection control groups who worked in isolation ward, did not come down with one case of Ebola infection. Both hundreds of staff from Sierra Leone and the suspected patients were free from cross-infection by diagnosed patients. The medical team has successfully fulfilled the requirements given by the party and country of “victorious battle, zero infection”, and played a good exemplary role in the world, demonstrating the overall strength of the Chinese medical team in terms of infection control.
After the successful completion of the rescue work of three cases of Ebola patients, Hunan medical team, as the last medical team to aid Sierra Leone against Ebola, started the transformation of Sino-Sierra Leone Friendship Hospital. In early June, the medical team began the terminal disinfection for the hospital transformation, gradually carried out such finishing work as weeding, disinfection and sanitation of the hospital experts building, living area, quarantine area and non-contaminated areas, registered the facilities, objects as well as breakage in these areas and timely supplied deficient facilities. By the end of June, the transformation of the Sino-Sierra Leone Friendship Hospital smoothly passed the acceptance and came to a successful completion after the scene inspection of the experts sent by WHO.
On July 23, before the awards ceremony, Li Youzhi, Vice Governor of Hunan Province, shook hands with the medical staff, thanking them for their dedication and hard work. Tian Yongquan, Vice President of CSU, on behalf of Gao Wenbing, Secretary of the Party Committee and President Zhang Yaoxue, welcomed them “back home”.