Thursday, 22 May 2003

Beijing (Fides Service) – After missions in Vietnam and Hong Kong, De Dan Sermand, head of the NGO Medicines Sans Frontiers MSF group assigned to deal with SARS, arrived in Beijing on 8 May.
The main objective of the MSF in China is to flank Chinese medical staff in the struggle against SARS. Sermand, who was in Beijing between 12 and 15 May said: “We have made first contact with people and there are many things to do and to examine”. In March Sermand led missions to Vietnam and Hong Kong to help establish methods of isolation and prevention and also for the psychological support of patients and nursing staff. On 29 April, the day Dr. Sermand moved his team to Hong Kong, the World Health Organisation announced that the SARS virus was under control and that Vietnam had been removed from the list of danger countries. This is why Dr Sermand is called the ‘miracle doctor’. The Italian Dr Carlo Urbani, also MSF, who was the first to discover the SARS virus, contracted the disease and died in Thailand at the end of March is now known affectionately as the SARS hero.
Medicine sans Frontiers, which was started in 1971, first came to China in the 1990s of the last century. Today it has doctors and staff working in Yun Nan and Si Chuan provinces (to prevent the spread of tuberculosis and venereal diseases), Shaan Xi (health care for street children), and in Xi Zang and Xin Giang. On 10 April this year MSF signed an agreement with the provincial government of HuBei for a five-year programme to treat and prevent AIDS. NZ (Fides Service 22/5/2003 EM lines 30 Words: 298)