Home> Media Center>Updates

'Barefoot doctor' walks over 400,000 km in 50 years

chinadaily.com.cn| Updated: May 13, 2021 L M S


"Barefoot doctor" Qiu Guoxin checks a farmer's back injury in Shengzhou, a county-level city in Shaoxing, Zhejiang province. [Photo/zjol.com.cn]

"Barefoot doctor" Qiu Guoxin has been traveling around the mountains of Shengzhou, a county-level city in Shaoxing, Zhejiang province, for 50 years.

China's "barefoot doctor" refers to rural healthcare providers with minimal basic medical and paramedical training. The 68 year old Qiu is the oldest among his colleagues in Shengzhou. He alone serves as family doctor to 1,229 villagers.

As villagers have their separate working hours. Qiu's clinic opens from 5:00 am to 8:00 pm. He has also learned to give remote diagnosis with WeChat. He told local media outlets that over 30 patients will make appointments on a daily basis.

In response to Shaoxing's digitalization reform efforts, Qiu has built a health database for all of the 1,229 villagers, and has marked the 198 hypertension and 41 diabetes patients.

Qiu was also assigned as the country doctor of five villages distributed in an area of 3.46 square meters. Every month, he offers door-to-door service for villagers who live far away from his clinic.

In 50 years, Qiu has given about 150,000 such diagnosis and has covered a distance of over 400,000 kilometers. Villagers praise him as "guardian of health."

Previously, Qiu didn't have to work this hard. The area used to have four barefoot doctors, but most of them have left. "I can not abandon my patients," he said.

Local health authorities said that as of the end of 2020, the city has over 200 barefoot doctors and they are aged 65 years old on average.

"Luckily I am still in my prime and can hold on for a a long time," Qiu said. "I am also looking for young people willing to join me and take the hard road."