February 2010

Meet Our Featured Guest Columnist:
Ying Lowrey

served as a barefoot doctor as a teenager in China and Tibet. Although the system is no longer used there, she remembers it as an innovative and effective way to provide poor families with basic health care.

Q: How/why did you become a barefoot doctor?

A: It's a very typical Chinese thing; they have some village, they give something like this: one village kid gets some education, gets some training, they provide a service over there. And then people just find out that's very useful, and then especially when the government finds out this kind of service is very beneficial for the people, so they just quickly spread out over the country... In general probably each village had one barefoot doctor.

Q: Describe some of the successes you have seen in your work.

A: I remember when I was in the countryside, the most common problem was very very common things like headache, toothache, stomachache, leg ache, backache, those kind of stuff, so I treated those exclusively just using acupuncture or acupressure. And most of all, I just provided some comforting to those people.

Q: What are some of the challenges that remain?

A: I think the barefoot doctor system in China was very very important, and it played a very crucial role in taking care of country people and to provide some sort of healthcare for the poor people. It was very very important. I wish this barefoot doctor system still existed in our days, because even though the economy grows very fast but in some places [people are] still very poor and some of those people still have no adequate healthcare for them. So for those people I wish some people can still provide this kind of service for them.

Q: How can young people make a difference?

A: I started this kind of work when I was 18 years old and then I stayed in the countryside for 4 ½ years. I think this volunteerism is sort of everywhere. To me it's sort of energy and idealism of people, especially for young people. When that happens, that kind of energy, they should have a place to release that kind of energy. I think in my situation, my generation situation, we had right place to release that kind of energy, which was very good.