Promising Medical Assistance, Chinese Hospital Ship Docks at Thilawa

Saw Yan Naing The Irrawaddy

THILAWA PORT, Rangoon Division — The Chinese hospital ship dubbed “Peace Ark” docked at Thilawa Port near Burma’s commercial capital on Wednesday, with hundreds of Burmese naval personnel in attendance along with Rangoon-based Chinese nationals and members of China’s diplomatic corps.

Rear Adm Shen Hao, deputy chief of staff of the East Sea Fleet of the Chinese Navy, told dozens of journalists at a press conference at the port that Chinese doctors and nurses would provide medical treatment, including administering Chinese traditional treatments, for Burmese people on board the ship.

Shen Hao also said he would dispatch Chinese doctors and nurses to hospitals, clinics, schools and orphanages to treat those in need of medical treatment.

“Our main objective for this visit is to provide medical treatment to the Burmese people and military forces. We also want to show friendship between Myanmar and China,” Shen Hao said.

“The trip will benefit the pauk hpaw [brotherly] bilateral friendship between Myanmar and China as well as its people. I believe our friendship, especially between naval forces, will be better in the future,” added Hao.

During its one-week docking in Burma, the ship will also send its physicians and nurses to Rangoon’s Chinatown, where a substantial portion of residents are ethnic Chinese. Medical crews will also provide free on-board treatment to selected local residents and Burmese military personnel, from simple medical check-ups to surgeries.

“For China, the pauk hpaw relationship with Myanmar is very important,” Chinese Ambassador to Burma Yang Houlan told The Irrawaddy. “And this time, they [the Chinese medical team] have come here to promote China’s long-standing and mutual friendship.

The Chinese ambassador said he hoped the free medical services, made at the arrangement of Burmese authorities, would benefit not only military personnel but also average Burmese citizens in need.

The Peace Ark is on an eight-country “Mission Harmony – 2013” tour this year, with Thilawa serving as its latest port of call.

Some 4,000 square meters in size, the hospital ship has 300 beds, 20 intensive care units (ICUs), eight surgical operating theaters and the capacity to accommodate 40 major surgeries a day. Traditional Chinese medicinal remedies will also be shared over the next week, and academic and culture exchanges will be held.

According to a statement by the Chinese Embassy in Rangoon, people who would like to receive free medical treatment on board the ship are asked to register with the Rangoon regional government.