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African practices TCM in Chengdu hospital


Dressed in a white gown with pens in pocket, 53-year-old Diarra Boubacar was welcomed by the Traditional Chinese Medicine Hospital in the Xindu district of Chengdu in Southwest China's Sichuan province, as a specially invited expert.
Born in the African country of Mali, Boubacar continued the family tradition of training to be a doctor at Malian Medical College, earning his degree in 1984. He then joined a government-sponsored program to continue his study in China.
In his freshman year, Diarra was the only one in his class to earn a grade as low as 40 percent. The frustrated man did not buckle under the hardship of learning the ancient Chinese language to read traditional Chinese medicine classics, and he developed an obsession with TCM.
During his years in China, Diarra has studied in different cities like Beijing, Guangzhou and Chengdu, and after a long journey, he finally got his post-doctorial degree. In 1994, he became the first foreigner to get a Ph.D in acupuncture at the Chengdu Traditional Chinese Medicine College.
After obtaining his medical degree in Sichuan province, he joined Medicins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders) to help patients in remote villages in Sichuan and Yunnan provinces.
The Chinese language is no longer a challenge to him. In fact, he can tell the difference between Sichuan and Chongqing dialects, and even slight differences between dialects of different counties.
In the Xindu hospital, he devotes himself to his work and treats every patient with care. He offers his patients TCM treatments such as pulse feeling, cupping therapy and acupuncture. Nearly 100 patients come to his consulting room each day.
"Be careful, the moxa stick is hot and might roast your belly well-done," Boubacar jokes. From time to time, he uses humor to ease his patients' nervousness.
Boubacar also discusses therapies with his colleagues. Apart from treating patients, he teaches, hoping to encourage young Chinese people to learn traditional practices.
Boubacar is always busy when on duty. Everywhere he goes, relatives of patients stop him and ask questions. He listens carefully, answering their questions with great patience and in detail. When busy at work, he and his colleagues eat lunch in the office.
His experience of more than 30 years in China has turned him into an expert on the country. He is fond of spicy food and traditional Chinese opera. He also writes Chinese characters beautifully.
Apart from his academic study, Boubacar also reads classic works of traditional Chinese medicine, like the Treatise on Febrile and Miscellaneous Diseases. He reads them with dictionaries close at hand.
In Chengdu, not only did Boubacar find success in his career, he also discovered love. There he met Yang Mei, who became his wife in 2001. Now they have two children.
As time goes on, more and more people are accepting traditional Chinese medicine around the world. The Chinese government is also promoting traditional Chinese medicine in its construction of the Belt and Road program.
Boubacar hopes one day there can be a clinic of traditional Chinese medicine in Africa to cultivate more young doctors, and to carry forward this deeply rooted culture.

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