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Chinese Medical Team Provides Psychological Aid in Haiti

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The apocalyptic earthquake that leveled much of Haiti's capital city not only has left many Haitians without food or shelter, it also has taken an ongoing mental toll on survivors and rescue workers alike.

A Chinese medical team is on the ground here to provide the needy with any needed psychological assistance that might be required.

The January 12 earthquake killed an estimated 200,000 people and left as many as 2 million homeless and 250,000 needing urgent medical care.

Cao Li, a member of the Chinese international rescue team and a psychologist, says seeing the devastation may well lead survivors and rescue workers to a variety of mental problems such as post-traumatic stress syndrome.

The stress of dealing with the carnage, shattered households, aftershocks from the magnitude 7.3 earthquake, plus a lack of food and medicine could facilitate negative emotions of the survivors and endanger their health, Cao said.

The Chinese rescue team has already started offerring psychological aid, hoping to help the survivors deal with the trauma caused by the earthquake.

"Whenever I see their hopelessness and suffering, apart from pains caused by physical traumas, I felt mental intervention should step in," Cao said.

Twenty-two-year-old Nata, who lost her niece and nephew in the disaster, also has been coping with a serious arm fracture. Missing her beloved family, the sad woman aimlessly paced back and forth in the medical center.

Knowing of her situation, the Chinese team approached her and briefed her on ways to relieve her distressful mood.

"You have to go to either your relatives and your friends, or just cry so that you can get rid of these emotions as quickly as possible," Cao told Nata. "You need to face the fact and live on!"

Besides providing tips on mental care, members of the Chinese rescue team also expected the affected people to be strong so that the work of rebuiding the traumatized island nation could begin.

(Xinhua News Agency January 21, 2010)

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