During the 5 hours in a couch rebounding up and down, we had left the coast area and went deep into the inner land shrouded by thick tropical fog. It was very humid.
We didn’t even noticed we had reached a town until the couch stopped. As we got off, we at once found ourselves on the middle of a road, as well as the middle of a market place. I looked around, and what greeted me were two lines of stout brick houses siding along the narrow road, which had been occupied by tricycles, vans, vegetable baskets and peddlers who were yelling for buyers. From the uproar, I faintly discerned the cry of a baby, the bargain shout, the of engines, and curses at times. The crowded market smelled like a mingling of poultry, motors, and mud. Peeping through the margin between the houses I only saw far-reaching rice fields behind. I suddenly understood what the word “town” means. It’s just a sect of the cross-province way through a small village. Welcome to Mao Yang!
A man in common dressing came up to us. He was not tall but seemed strong, as anyone who had long stayed in the wild. He was exactly the health-care governor Lin Shaoxiong. He recognized us at the first glance since our wearing must be strange to the town. With a friendly smile, he ushered us to the only hotel in the town by the road. Though up till now everything went well, none of us dared to relax as we still had no idea of what really was going on in this unfamiliar place.
We spent the night on a little food shop. At the table, the first round of interview began. We tried to look into the governor’s mind and discerned what might be eyewash. But he appeared very frank, showing a practical and rustic touch.
Here is a record of the interview.
Q: Could you tell about the town?
A: Yes. The town is actually a coalition of three villages with 20000 people. It locates on the inner
Q: When did you set up this investigation spot?
A: in 2005, last year.
A: in 2005, a journalist (confirmed as a journalist of New Jing Newspaper, Beijing-based, different from the one of AFP) covered that the neglect of the residents and the local government let hookworm harm people’s health. The report caught the attention of provincial officials. The chairman of Provincial People Representative Committee appealed to the central government for fund. And soon we got support to conduct the research.
Q: how is it going now?
A: we set up 5 spots. Here is the middle spot. We had begun the research by talking with villagers and collecting feces for assay.
Q: what’s the problem?
A: I forgot the accurate number. But indeed there exist problems.
Q: could you give a rough judgment?
A: we have to take actions.
Q: what caused the problem? What cause the spread of hookworm?
A: the outhouse. Actually villagers have no outhouses and they egest on the field so that they are likely to contract the hookworm when they walk on the soil by bare feet.
Q: they don’t have the habit of wearing shoes?
A: some don’t care this.
Q: do villagers still use feces as fertilizer?
A: No, they now use the chemical fertilizer and it won’t hold hookworm larvae.
Q: could they get support if they are going to build new outhouses?
A: yes. 200 RMB each from the country finance. But it needs 800 totally. Some still don’t wish to build one.
Q: how do the tablets work? They don’t cost much, do they?
A: indeed. But though they are cheap, villagers still are not willing to take them since nobody actually understand the disease is a harm.
Q: how is the health-care condition here?
A: (silent for a while) I feel sorry for this. Tomorrow you may see a real village clinic.
Q: finally I would like to know whether Wanning has hookworm outbreak.
A: No, there isn’t.
Then we exposed the report to him. He immediately affirmed it fabricated the location. This aroused a question: why had the both news agencies mistaken the location? Was the authority still covering up the outbreak in Wanning?
But after all, we had up till then confirmed the situation. There did exist the ignorance of this disease. But at least the government has taken the action. What remained are these: how serious was this disease in the village? How much work had the government really done? How much were the villagers aware of the problem and how difficult was it for them to build outhouses and change the ill sanitation habit? All were to be solved in the field research tomorrow.