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China to Send Ebola Medical Team to DRC

June 5, 2018

By Joseph S. Margai in Beijing, China

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Dr. Yong Feng (left) briefing journalists and other Chinese officials at the meeting on Monday

The Chinese government is set to send a medical team to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to help in the fight against the deadly Ebola viral disease.

The second largest economy in the world may also administer the recently developed Chinese Ebola vaccine to patients.

Worried about the recent outbreak, the Chinese government, which sees the outbreak as a threat to relationship between China and DRC, is determined to do everything in its power to put a halt to the menace.

In a meeting with African journalists in Beijing on Monday, 4th June, Dr. Yong Feng, Deputy Director-General of the Department of International Cooperation at China’s National Health Commission, said the team would also embark on Chinese Ebola vaccine promotion in DRC.

“We are worried about the current health situation in DRC. As a reliable partner to Africa, we would be sending a team of medical personnel to fight the disease. We have also developed a Chinese Ebola vaccine which has met all our national set standards and approval. But the drug has not yet been approved by the World Health Organization (WHO),” he said.

However, he said that though WHO has not yet approved the Chinese Ebola vaccine, having applied all efforts and presented all relevant documents, they could still administer the drug on bilateral level in DRC.

“I mean bilateral level in the sense that, if the government of DRC through its Ministry of Health agrees for us to administer the vaccine, we will do it. But the acceptance must come from the local authorities. We are determined to end this health menace in the African continent once and for all,” Dr. Yong stated.

He said even though China has never done a clinical trial in Africa, when they were developing the Chinese Ebola vaccine, they invited medical experts from Africa.

He recalled that during the Ebola outbreak in the three West African countries of Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea, the Chinese government sent a medical team comprising 1,200 personnel, adding that they also supported the three countries with the sum of 750 million Yuan, more than US$117 million.

Dr. Yong said that because of the Ebola outbreak, the Chinese government provided a Bio-Safety Level 3 Lab technical assistance project to Sierra Leone.

He revealed that China’s health support to Africa started in 1963 – 55 years ago – in Algeria, recalling that since then, 20,000 Chinese medical personnel have worked in Africa and provided medical services to 210 million patients.

“Our medical teams are currently working in 44 African countries. We have renovated or built 27 hospitals in Africa and we are embarking on seven maternal and child health (MCH) projects. We are partnering with 15 sister hospitals in Africa and we have been donating anti-malaria drugs,” he said.

He noted that the Chinese government provided the sum of US$2 million to the African Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and also donated US$8 million infrastructure in Addis Ababa for the CDC, adding that they further trained 100 African public health experts.

In 2017, Dr. Yong continued, “we trained over 1,000 African medical workers in areas such as public health policy, prevention and treatment, among others.”

He revealed that the key projects the Chinese government would support in Africa include African CDC, emerging infectious diseases, malaria prevention and control, schistosomiasis prevention and control, training in the areas of pediatrics, gynecology and obstetrics.

Dr. Yong said that in 2017 China did not record a single case of malaria and that they hope to eradicate the disease by 2020, adding that they would also help African countries to eliminate the disease.

He also spoke about Chinese traditional medicine, which according to him was more effective than conventional medicine especially in the area of curing non-communicable diseases.

He concluded that there would be a China-Africa Health Cooperation meeting between 17-20 August this year in Beijing with the theme: “Deepening  China-Africa Health Cooperation and jointly build the healthy silk road”.

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African journalists at the meeting