Horseback Healthcare For Nomadic Herders
2019-09-10
The Golog Tibetan Prefecture in Qinghai Province of northwest China is a remote area, with wide open plains and prairies and few towns and villages. Majority of the inhabitants of the plains are nomadic herders, who spend most of the year on the grasslands with their yaks and sheep, rarely coming in to the small villages and towns of the prefecture. And many who become ill prefer to use the traditional Tibetan medicines, including using lamas for divination, rather than making the long treks to the nearest medical center, which can be many days walk away.

Red Cross Volunteers on horseback bring much-needed medical aid to the nomadic herders
Red Cross Volunteers on horseback bring much-needed medical aid to the nomadic herders
 
Now, volunteers working with the Chinese branch of the International Red Cross Society are attempting to provide these nomadic people with decent modern healthcare, without them having to travel for days to a medical center. Established in December 2018, the volunteers have been using horses to reach the remote nomadic settlements, and have helped to cure around 67 people on the plains from a variety of illnesses.

A nomadic settlement in the Golog Tibetan Prefecture of Qinghai Province
A nomadic settlement in the Golog Tibetan Prefecture of Qinghai Province
 
One of the most common illnesses in the herders is the Tapeworm Infection, known as echinococcosis, which is passed on from the yaks to the herders through the drinking water. Yaks, just like other domestic cattle, carry the tapeworms as a parasite in their gut, and when drinking from standing water, the tapeworms are transferred, as well as in their faeces. Government estimates say that around 2.5 percent of the people in the prefecture carried this infection in 2017, the highest infection rate in China. Many of the residents of the area would not travel to hospitals, or would wait until a lama had divined an auspicious date for the surgery required to treat tapeworm.

Yaks are the backbone of Tibetan society, but often pass tapeworms on to their herders and families
Yaks are the backbone of Tibetan society, but often pass tapeworms on to their herders and families
 
One of the main tasks of the horseback volunteers is to educate the herders in modern medical science, and try to convince them that modern methods are more effective than traditional medicines. However, while around half of the residents of the area have accepted the suggestions to go to hospitals and medical centers, many of the people still share tableware, passing the tapeworms on to other people and spreading the disease.

Tapeworms are flat worms that live in your intestines
Tapeworms are flat worms that live in your intestines
 
Every spring and autumn, the Red Cross volunteers will travel to the remote nomadic settlements and small villages, where the herders tend to gather ready to work for the summer months and after the best grazing is over. There, they can give free healthcare to the elderly, explain modern medical treatments for a wide variety of illnesses and diseases, and teach the locals how to administer their own medications correctly. And in the summer and winter seasons, the volunteers are on hand to give aid and relief goods when floods or snowstorms badly affect the area.

A remote village in the Golog Tibetan Prefecture
A remote village in the Golog Tibetan Prefecture
 
With 35 members at the last count, the volunteers are all locals that speak fluent Tibetan and can ride horses, which are their main mode of transportation across the plains to the villages. With modern transport being hard to use on the rough and rocky landscape, especially with few roads through the prefecture, the volunteer force came up with the idea to use horses to gain access to the remote settlements for providing the medical services. Most families can live up to 30km apart, and riding on horseback is the most effective way to reach these remote nomadic herders.
TAG: red cross in qinghai china red cross red cross healthcare healthcare for nomads nomadic herders health care

FEATURED ON

ADD:4-5 House Namsel NO.3, Doudi Road, Lhasa, Tibet | Explore Tibet is the leading Tibetan Owned Tibet Travel company
Mobile: 0086-13398000993 or Tel: 0086-891-6305152 (Lhasa), +124 0778 0765(USA)
Office Hours: Monday - Friday 9:00am - 7:00pm (GMT +8)

Copyright © 2015 Explore Tibet. Privacy Policy Tibet Group Tour DMCA.com Protection Status