Beijing: A team of Indian and Chinese doctors have toured southwest China's Yunnan Province to treat patients in remote areas without proper medical facilities, in an effort to retrace the trail of "Barefoot Doctors" first undertaken by legendary Dwarakanath Kotnis.
A nine-member Indian team of medics along with nine of their Chinese counterparts completed a five-day stint of volunteer work in a village in the province.
The doctors are touring the province as part of Friendship and Exchange Year programs.
They provided medical advice to about 100 villagers and donated medicines worth CNY 15,000 (USD 2,440), state-run China Daily reported today.
Manpreet Singh Kakkar, who is on his first trip to China, is surprised at the absence of basic dental care at county level in Jinping. He found that the dental treatment that hospitals there can provide is limited to pulling teeth.
Kakkar is one of the 18 doctors on the Sino-Indian medical team.
The trip is valuable in cementing cooperation between India and China, said Sudhindra Kammachi, 37, a general practitioner who runs his own clinic in India.
"It is an opportunity for me to have a basic understanding of the healthcare system in remote areas of China where there is poverty," he told state-run China Daily.
The joint medical mission, which is the fourth of this kind between the two countries, represents the spirit of the "Barefoot Doctors" undertaken by Dr Kotnis in 1938.
The joint medical team was set up in 2008 to mark the 70th anniversary of Kotnis' help to China during the War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression (1937-45).
Kotnis volunteered to join the Indian medical assistance team to China in 1938 and died in Hebei province in 1942 at the age of 32.
He was known for his dedication and perseverance and also been portrayed as a model for the two country's friendship and collaboration.
"The present joint medical team sets a good example for people in the two counties in contributing to the disadvantaged and to humanitarian activities," said Hu Sishe, the organiser and vice-president of the Chinese People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries.
B Pratap Reddy, head of this year's joint medical team, said this is something that Kotnis' "noble cause" bequeathed and it plays a pivotal role in strengthening the Sino-Indian traditional friendship.
Reddy said the trip has provided an opportunity for both sides to share ideas on ensuring that people are given proper medical treatment.
"Indian team members also want to learn from China how to meet the healthcare demands of 1.3 billion Chinese people," he said.