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More interest in volunteering
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A growing number of Chinese are showing an interest in volunteering for humanitarian relief, non-profit group Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) said yesterday.

"A lot of people have been contacting us to inquire about volunteering and providing health care assistance to populations in distress, disasters and armed conflict," MSF China liaison manager Joanne Wong told China Daily.

In March, the group opened an office in Guangzhou to cater to the growing interest.

The office is itself a branch of MSF (Hong Kong), with 30 staff working at both locations.

The director of the Hong Kong office, David Wilson, said its volunteer doctors started by providing healthcare assistance on the mainland in 1988.

They first assisted victims of natural disasters such as floods, earthquakes, and avalanches and went on to focus on poor rural areas including those in the Tibet and Xinjiang Uygur autonomous regions.

Since 2003, MSF has also been cooperating with the Health Ministry to address AIDS/HIV in Hubei Province and the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.

Four professional doctors from the mainland have worked for the group so far, in countries including Libya and Uganda.

Wong said volunteers had to apply for six months' leave from their hospitals.

Anyone with professional medical experience and able to handle pressure is welcome to join the organization, she said.

(China Daily November 2, 2007)

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