WINDHOEK – Namibians from across the political and social and spectrum – ranging from the humble mountain-dwelling Ovahimba to high-flying Cabinet ministers and other professionals – regularly consult the acupuncture department at Katutura Intermediate Hospital as an alternative drug-free non-intrusive therapy, whose efficacy is recognised by western doctors and even by the World Health Organisation (WHO). Dr Zhidan Jin, whose four-person team will on Sunday return to China after completing a two-year medical mission at the acupuncture department at Katutura Intermediate Hospital where Chinese medical acupuncturists and nurses are deployed through a bilateral government-to-government accord, says last year alone his team treated over 7,200 patients, among them Ovahimba nomads and Cabinet ministers.
Patients attended to by the team headed by Shuiying Zhang, who is a senior nurse, could range in number from 48 to 60 in a day and some of them could be seen hobbling on medical crutches and travel to the referral hospital from Kunene, Walvis Bay, Swakopmund, Katima Mulilo, Rundu and from other parts of Namibia.
According to Dr Zhidan and information from respected peer-reviewed medical journals, the non-intrusive, drug-free, 2000-year-old ancient Chinese elixir has proven magical where western medicine and other known conventional therapies have been ineffective, such as in the treatment of strokes, muscular, joint, back and neck pains, acute spinal pain, relieving the after-effects of chemotherapy, deafness, chronic pulmonary disease, cardiac neurosis, colour blindness, paralysis, asthma and infertility, among others.
Acupuncture, which has become a fashionable choice even among some celebrities in Europe and America, has also been effective in the treatment of gout, facial spasm, reflex sympathetic dystrophy, insomnia, stress and other medical conditions that are too numerous to list.
American soldiers deployed in Qatar also used what they call battlefield acupuncture (BFA) that relieves pain among battle-fatigued American troops and to fight drug abuse rife among soldiers, according to an online news article, while the former actress Meghan Merkle, who recently wed Princess Harry the Duke of Sussex, uses acupuncture as a beauty therapy, revealed Dr Zhidan who keeps her photo to prove this.
Dr Zhidan explained that the theoretical underlying factor of acupuncture therapy involves the flow of Qi and blood in the meridians, which influences the functions of the vital organs, and practitioners of this ancient Chinese remedy use a chart that divides the body into 12 major anatomical sections called meridians, referring to a grouping of certain blood vessels, nerves and muscles of which each of these meridians (channels) includes hundreds of acupoints or acupuncture points through which the needles are inserted.
When he was asked what is the common ailment that the team from a renowned medical hospital in Zhejiang province in eastern China treats at the intermediate hospital for free at no cost to thousands of Namibian patients, he said muscular, joint, spinal and neck pain is the most common malady attended to.
Dr Fady Ashmawy, the Egyptian expatriate who serves as the medical superintendent at the Katutura Intermediate Hospital, gave a thumbs-up to the role played by acupuncture in the healthcare field.
“They are eminent in pain management, joint and spine pains, especially the chronic cases of persistent pain, cancer pains. They also have a good reputation in dealing with other cases like sexual dysfunction, obesity, abstinence of smoking,” said Dr Ashmawy who also cautioned: “As we know, every medicine, even the shelf medications, may have side-effects like stomach irritation, tummy cramps, vomiting, diarrhoea, allergy, skin rash, itching and other toxic effects, which is more liable to appear when using medications for long periods, and with high doses some pain killers also have a dangerous addictive effect.”
Most of the medicines, he further explained, are metabolised in the body and excreted through the kidney or the liver and in cases of liver and kidney disease or failure the same dosage cannot be used as in the case of a normal person, and doctors try as efficiently as possible to avoid medications which could harm the liver or the kidney but if acupuncture is used this does not affect the liver or the kidneys, as it is safe.
He also recommends this ancient of therapies for pain management in chronic arthritis, gout, some rheumatoid cases, post-traumatic joint affliction, and many cases where patients are continuously in pain.
The group that leaves on Sunday has already been replaced by a new team of Chinese medical expatriates that arrived in Namibia on Sunday and it also comprises two men and two women.