The 'Peace Ark' hospital ship: Setting sail for love

Chen Zhuo
2019-06-03 01:15:02

Editor's note: "Building a community with a shared future for mankind is the right path forward amid growing uncertainty and instability around the world… Hegemony does not conform to China's values and national interests," noted General Wei Fenghe, Chinese State Councilor and Defense Minister while addressing a plenary session entitled "China and International Security Cooperation" at the 18th Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore on June 2. In this episode of our "Come Together" series, we look at the Chinese Navy's "Peace Ark" hospital ship.

The delivery of their baby girl on board a Chinese hospital ship and naming her "Chin" ("China" in Bengali) to express their gratitude was how a couple from Bangladesh – Jannatul Ferdous and her husband Anwar Hossain – created a China bond nine years ago.

On November 12, 2010, Ferdousa, the pregnant woman with congenital heart disease, suffered a difficult labor that local hospitals in Chittagong, Bangladesh, failed to treat. Luckily, the Chinese Navy's "Peace Ark" hospital ship on the "Harmonious Mission-2010" medical voyage happened to be around.

"Since the patient had already been 36 weeks in pregnancy, her life was put at high risk," recalled Chen Lei, chief obstetrician and gynecologist of the Peace Ark." A cesarean section for Ferdousa was conducted by Chinese medical staff immediately.

Oihi Alifa Chin and her parents reunited with the Chinese medical staff in 2013 and 2017 when the hospital ship traveled again to Bangladesh.

The Peace Ark, independently designed by China, is the world's first 10,000-ton level professional hospital ship. Prior to "Peace Ark," most hospital ships around the world were converted from other types of ships.

While providing humanitarian medical service worldwide, the Peace Ark also plays an active role in disaster relief and emergency medical support.

In November 2013, Super Typhoon Haiyan hit the Philippines. After 77 hours' travel, the ship arrived in the affected area and started humanitarian medical assistance immediately. Medical staff treated 2,208 patients in total, including 113 inpatients, and conducted 44 operations.

"During the rescue in the Philippines, we actively worked with organizations such as the World Health Organization, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the United Nations Children's Fund," Sun Tao, former Peace Ark hospital ship director, told CGTN.

As the carrier of peace and love, the vessel also takes with it a spirit of collaboration as well as mutual benefits. In 2013, when it arrived in Bangladesh for the second time, a cataract patient named Muhammad Talik Islam, who had previously received treatment, came on board again.

"He saw many Chinese doctors were having difficulties in talking to patients who only speak their local language. He speaks English so he told us he would stay after the operation and volunteered as an interpreter," recalled Sun.

Since it was commissioned in 2008, the Peace Ark has traveled across three oceans and six continents, offering free medical service to 230,000 civilians across 43 countries and regions.

"In providing humanitarian support worldwide, the Peace Ark works and collaborates with people across the globe," Sun noted. "Our active participation in such global affairs demonstrates how we endeavor to build a community of shared future for mankind."

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