Deeply Moved by Sasakawa Fellows’ Fight Against Coronavirus Pandemic in China [2020/04/21]
As China grappled with the escalating coronavirus outbreak in February, I sent a letter to Dr. Zhao Qunk, president of the Sasakawa Medical Scholarship Alumni Association, to encourage Chinese fellowship alumni working night and day to combat COVID-19 and to express our appreciation.
Of those alumni, more than 30 medical doctors were at the forefront of the fight against the coronavirus in Wuhan, the capital of China's Hubei Province, where the virus first emerged last December.
They are among some 2,400 medical students and professionals who The Nippon Foundation has invited to Japan under the Japan-China Sasakawa Medical Fellowship program since 1986 to study and conduct joint research at universities, hospitals and research institutions all over the country.
In return, Dr. Zhao, also president of China Medical University, sent me a letter, expressing gratitude on behalf of all the Sasakawa scholarship alumni who he said were truly encouraged and moved by my letter.
I would like to share with you some translated excerpts from his March 16 letter, which was written in Chinese:
First of all, I would like to express our wholehearted gratitude both on behalf of all the members of the Sasakawa Medical Scholarship Alumni Association and myself personally for your letter at a time when people in China were united making every effort to combat the spread of the coronavirus. The association members, myself included, were all encouraged greatly and moved deeply by your letter with many of them asking me to write you back, expressing our profound appreciation.
Following the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, some members of the association were working on the front lines battling the pandemic by risking their own lives, while more members joined this battle in their respective positions providing logistical support.
Especially, it is noteworthy that Dr. Hu Yu, a 1996 fellow under the Sasakawa scholarship program and now president of Wuhan Union Hospital, exercised the leadership of thousands of doctors, nurses and medical staff at this pivotal hospital in the battle against COVID-19.
Dr. Xiao Ning, a 1997 fellow and now a researcher from the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, was a member of the first group of Chinese experts sent to Italy to help advise officials there.
There are plenty of other heart-warming episodes, but I will save them until I meet you again after we conquer the disease.
At present, the situation surrounding the coronavirus in China has improved with production resuming gradually and people’s lives getting back to normal. But as you said in your letter, the coronavirus is a formidable enemy, which has not only threatened the health of the Chinese people, but also could deal devastating damage to the peace and welfare of people the world over, including Japan.
Under your leadership, we are determined to contribute to this fight against the common enemy of humankind by demonstrating the characteristics of the alumni association.
Finally, on behalf of all the members of the association, I would like to express our sincere gratitude to you for years of your contribution to the fellowship program. I look forward to seeing you in Japan in September at a ceremony welcoming the class of 2020.
President of the Sasakawa Medical Scholarship Alumni Association
16 March 2020
The letter I received from Dr. Zhao Qunk, president of the Sasakawa Medical Scholarship Alumni Association, dated March 16, 2020.