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Tibetans benefit from improved medical care


08:56, July 22, 2013

When rural doctor Tsering Paljor makes house calls, the journey he has to make to visit patients scattered around the snowy plateaus of Tibet is more dangerous than most.

The doctor rides his motorbike on bumpy, snow-covered roads, where a single mistake could cost the doctor his own life.

Today Tsering Paljor is taking a 20-minute ride to check on a newborn in Nyanrong County who has exhibited fever symptoms. The child's mother Yungdrung waited patiently inside for the doctor to arrive.

"My baby will be safe as long as you're here," she said upon his arrival. The doctor checked the baby's temperature and gave it a transfusion to help it recover.

"Tsering Paljor is our warm sun and living Buddha," Yungdrung said.

Tsering Paljor, 40, is a doctor in Chadom Township, which has a population of 2,200 spread over 13 counties.

"The low oxygen in this area means that even a small cold can claim a life," Tsering Paljor said.

Fortunately, the doctor is not alone in his efforts to provide medical care to local residents. The central government has stepped in to provide better care for those who live in the remote region of Tibet.

"Medical conditions have been greatly improved since we have Tsering Paljor, as well as more convenient transportation," local resident Sichod Ram said.

The woman recalled that the doctor once spent 1,200 yuan (195 U.S. dollars) to help her reach a county hospital when she had difficulty giving birth in June 2010.

The central and regional government spent 1.7 billion yuan to finance free medical services for Tibetans from 2006 to 2010. During that time, 20 county hospitals were renovated and mobile hospitals were sent to 602 villages.

The number of medical workers has also increased. Each village now has an average of 1.85 doctors and there are approximately five clinics in every township.

Better medical care and social welfare have increased Tibetans' average life expectancy, which has risen to 67 years from 35.5 years in the 1950s.

The maternal mortality rate has dropped from 50 deaths per 1,000 live births in the early 1950s to 1.76 deaths per 1,000 in 2007, according to official statistics.

Tsering Paljor's family has a history of practicing medicine. His grandfather, a doctor himself, made it a family tradition to aid and comfort the less-fortunate without asking for anything in return.

Tsering Paljor made a similar commitment in his 40s, asking his offspring to continue to provide medical care to the residents of the snow-covered plateau region.

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