Source: Focus Taiwan, 3/12/2010
Taipei- The first Taiwanese doctor to work with the humanitarian organization Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) has published a book that documents his experience serving in a war-torn Middle East country.
The book, which was launched in Taiwan Friday, is titled "The Route Home" and features the 45-day journey of surgeon Raymond Soong to Yemen on an MSF mission.
Soong, 35, was a general surgeon at Chang Gung Memorial Hospital in Keelung when he decided in August 2009 to team up with MSF, also known as Doctors Without Borders, on a Yemen mission.
During his period of service in the war-torn state, he performed dozens of operations on patients injured in air raids and bombardments.
"I have always thought that I need to travel to far away places to really help people, " said Soong, who signed up for his first MSF mission in Liberia in 2004.
At the book launch, Soong's father, who is also a doctor, spoke with pride of his son's contribution.
"Although my son was not trained as an orthopedist or a gynecologist, he had to operate with whatever resources he had, using courage and wisdom, " said Soong Yung-kuei, Vice President of Linkou Medical Center. "This is experience that cannot be gained in medical school."
Jeffrey Chih-fu Chen, a doctor with 15-some years experience in mobile medical missions, said decisions such as the one Soong made could make a huge difference to people in conflict zones.
"It doesn't make much of a difference if we have one doctor less in Taiwan, but it is a matter of life and death for people in war-hit areas," he said.
Although there is a huge demand for doctors in MSF, there are only two Taiwanese doctors, including Raymond Soong, who are registered as MSF volunteers, according to MSF Hong Kong, which is responsible for medical recruitments in East Asia.
Raymond Soong said that there are many reasons why the participation rate in Taiwan is low compared with other countries.
"Many Taiwanese doctors have the dream and passion to work with MSF, but some hospitals are unable to guarantee them their positions when they return," he said.
Two other factors are family responsibilities and the high