The first Taiwanese doctor to work with the humanitarian organization Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) has published a book that documents his experiences serving in a war-torn Middle East country.
The book, launched in Taiwan yesterday, is titled The Route Home and features the 45-day journey of surgeon Raymond Soong (宋睿祥) to Yemen on an MSF mission.
Soong, 35, was a general surgeon at Chang Gung Memorial Hospital in Keelung when he decided in August last year 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 needed 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 (宋永魁), vice president of Linkou Medical Center. “This is experience that cannot be gained in medical school.”
Jeffrey Chen, a doctor with about 15 years experience in mobile medical missions, said decisions such as the one Raymond Soong made can 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-torn areas,” he said.
Although there is 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.