Local people in Haidao Village in east China’s Anhui Province call the village “an isolated island in the sea.” The village is located deep in the mountains near the Xianghongdian Reservoir. A houseboat has been docked for nearly 20 years in the east of the reservoir.
Yu Jiajun, 39, is the houseboat’s owner and the only doctor in Haidao Village, which is home to more than 200 people.
In 1999, Yu graduated from Lu’an Medical School and settled with his wife on the houseboat. He named the boat “Haidao Clinic.”
For the past 18 years, he has rowed the small wooden boat every day to see his patients. Haidao villagers call it the “water ambulance.”
There are 55 households in Haidao with a population of more than 200 people. In recent years, many young people have gone to work in big cities, leaving behind over 100 old men, women and children at home.
“There was no clinic in the past. Villagers had to walk and row for hours to go to the hospital in town,” Yu recalled. “I still remember when I was in junior school. A snake bit a villager and he died on the road to hospital. At that moment, I decided to study medicine and open a clinic in my hometown.”
As more and more young people leave for big cities, Yu has been reluctant to leave the clinic and his patients.
In 2009, the Haidao clinic became one of the designated medical organizations in Jinzhai County. Local authorities offered free computers and Internet for Yu to help villagers report medical expenses.
“People enjoy better medical care in villages since we introduced family doctor services,” said Yu. “But we have more work as there are not enough qualified village doctors.”