“I’m a living example among the thousands of cases saved by Chinese doctors in Morocco,” Rachidi Imane, a Moroccan doctor, recalled how she was saved upon birth by a Chinese doctor 42 years ago.
On Oct. 21, 1981, Imane’s pregnant mother was rushed to a local hospital in the northern Moroccan city of Taza, as she encountered a rarely complicated childbirth marked by macrosomia and face presentation, which threatened the lives of both the mother and baby.
A Chinese obstetrician-gynecologist (OB-GYN) at the hospital diagnosed her with fetal distress and quickly decided to perform a Cesarean section on the mother, saving her and the baby, who was named Imane.
“If it were not for the timely and skillful surgery by the Chinese doctor, my mother and I would have died that day, and I would not have had the chance to become an OB-GYN just like her,” Imane told Xinhua.
Inspired by her own birth story, Imane grew up to become an OB-GYN doctor herself, and worked with the Chinese doctors sent from China to help Morocco deal with the shortage of doctors.
Imane has a deep personal bond with China, not only because of her birth story, but also of the daily collaboration with Chinese colleagues in the Rhamna Provincial Central Hospital in the Moroccan town of Ben Guerir, around 180 km south of Casablanca.
Until now, Morocco is still facing a shortage of medical personnel, not to mention 42 years ago when the health care system was far worse. Since 1975, a total of 1944 Chinese medical personnel from Shanghai have been dispatched to Morocco. The Chinese doctors have so far treated a total of about 5.78 million outpatients and emergency cases, and 800,000 inpatients.
Currently, 78 Chinese medical staff are working in Morocco, providing free medical services to Moroccans in remote areas short of doctors and medicines, including Mohammodia, Rachidia, Taza, Chefchaouen, Agadir, Meknes, Ben Guerir and Settat.
Achibet Mostafa, dean of the Hassan II Hospital of Settat who has been working with Chinese medical teams for 30 years, said that “a shortage of medical personnel remains a critical problem we must overcome.”
He praised China for sending doctors to Morocco over the past decades, because it is “more important than providing the aid of material resources.”
When the 194th Chinese medical team arrived at Ben Guerir in November 2021, Imane quickly got to know the newcomers and became good friends with them.
“Doctor Zhang Qian and I are more than colleagues. She is my friend and my sister. We recommend cosmetics brands to each other, exchange beauty tips, and I teach her how to dress in Moroccan clothes,” she said.
Imane was also touched by Zhang’s kindness and generosity. When Imane was on shift, Zhang often brings her food and covers her shift during meal times or when Imane is on sick leave.
By working together harmoniously, Moroccan and Chinese doctors learned a lot from each other.
“The Chinese colleagues generously share their medical knowledge and skills with us. It is truly a stroke of luck for me to have the opportunity to learn these without having to study in China,” Imane said.
Nasser Bouchiba, president of the Africa-China Cooperation Association for Development in Morocco, lauded the Chinese medical teams for providing timely help to Morocco from the beginning.
“African countries like Morocco were badly short of talent when they were grappling with the national reconstruction following the colonial era. The Chinese doctors … undeniably played a significant role in providing essential medical aid to our underserved regions,” said Bouchiba.
“Chinese doctors are our best teachers. I hope more Chinese doctors will come to help us in the future,” Imane said.