In a specialized COVID-19 hospital in Iraqi capital of Baghdad, a Chinese-donated CT scan, mobile X-ray equipment, and other medical supplies are saving lives in the front-line battle against the COVID-19 pandemic. Already 400 patients have benefited from the important medical donation.
Since early March, China has sent three batches of medical aid and supplies to Iraq, assigning a team of medical experts to share first-hand experiences and deliver support to the Iraqi health system.
They installed advanced medical imaging equipment at al-Shifaa Center, one of the first public health facilities to be converted by the government in February to receive and treat coronavirus patients.
In a Chinese-built CT room at the center, Dr. Mohammed Abdul-Hussein was examining lung images of a 50-year-old patient with the sophisticated medical equipment.
“This patient’s lungs have a ground glass appearance which is the diagnostic feature of COVID-19 pneumonia on a CT scan,” Abdul-Hussein told Xinhua.
Abdul-Hussein, who has a PhD in radiology, said that medical imaging equipment, such as CT and X-ray devices, are indispensable in diagnosing cases and assessing lung infections.
“This CT scan has high resolution; it is fast, simple and ready to use. We can complete the examination in about one minute,” Abdul-Hussein said, adding that “it is vital for our work in this hospital.”
Since April, Abdul-Hussein and five other team members have examined approximately 400 patients with the CT scan, providing a scientific basis for proper treatment.
During an examination, Hanan Jamal, a female CT technician, instructs a patient to lie down and cross his arms on the head. She sits in a separate room and operates a control board and microphone as she completes a scan. Three-dimensional lung images appear on the screen.
Hanan said one advantage of the unique Chinese CT scan equipment is that it limits physical contact with patients. Doctors and technicians are protected, which “reduces the risk of infection with COVID-19.” She added that it is one of the few devices in Iraq to feature such sophisticated modern technology.
Hanan praised another piece of equipment, the X-ray device, for its mobility. It can be moved easily into patient wards, and technicians can operate it by remote control.
“The Chinese government has provided us very important devices at a very critical time,” said Rafid Shaker, director of al-Shifaa Center. “We are grateful for the support.”
Shaker said the hospital witnessed its peak number of patients between June and July while facing a high demand for ICU beds and a shortage of medical resources.
“The support from the Chinese government in our hospital, the CT scan, mobile X-ray, and portable ultrasound are very important to save lives and to serve the Iraqi people,” Shaker said.
As Iraq registers the highest number of infections and deaths among Arab countries, Shaker says the failure of enforcement of containment measures, limited medical personnel, ravaged health infrastructure, and unsafe religious gatherings are fueling a flare-up of infections.
The Iraqi Health Ministry reported on Friday 3,501 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the nationwide infections to 420,303.
Shaker called on the international community to continue supplying medical supplies, such as oxygen masks, to Iraq.