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China's 'barefoot' African doctor to take TCM to Africa

Updated:2017-10-27 10:38:17   chinadaily.com.cn

African doctor Diarra Boubacar gives acupuncture treatments to a patient at a traditional Chinese medicine hospital in Chengdu, Southwest China's Sichuan province, on Dec 16, 2016. [Photo/Xinhua]

If Diarra Boubacar did not have very good reflexes and a pair of sturdy legs, he might never have been able to distinguish himself as a doctor of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) in China.

The 53-year-old still has a good laugh when he talks about his first day working as a doctor at a private hospital in Chengdu, the city in Southwest China known for its panda museum and research base.

For three days, he didn't get a single patient. Then on the fourth, a matronly woman opened the door to his office, saw him - and ran away. "I had to run after her, saying I can help you with the problem," he said laughingly.

When she stopped, arrested by the sight of a foreigner speaking Chinese, he put on his best persuasive manner. "If I am not effective, I will not take any money from you," he promised her.

Reassured partly by that and partly by his Chinese, she came back, underwent treatment and felt better. "Finally, she started bringing her parents, her husband and they all became my patients," he reminisced.

Doctor Boubacar grew up in a small town in south-central Mali, a landlocked country in West Africa, which finds it challenging to provide affordable healthcare to its 18 million people, having suffered a series of conflicts following colonial rule by France.

From his father, Doctor Thiemoko Diarra, who worked with the International Committee of the Red Cross in his hometown, Boubacar learnt to build up trust with his patients and tried to be conscious of their payment capacity.

"When my father saw patients at home, he never took any fee from them," he said. "He would tell me, a doctor's job is to love his patients and serve his community."

Keywords:   China African doctor TCM