China, Africa Discuss Health Cooperation

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August 20, 2018

By Joseph S. Margai in Beijing

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Participants at the high-level meeting on China-Africa health cooperation

Officials from the Chinese government and their African counterparts have on Friday, 17th August 2018 met and discussed the way forward for a health cooperation to benefit people in both China and Africa.

The event, which was dubbed “High-Level Meeting on China-Africa Health Cooperation”, was held at the National Convention Centre in Beijing.

Themed “Deepen China-Africa Health Cooperation and Jointly Build the Health Silk Road”, the meeting brought together ministers of health from Africa and China and health experts.

Vice Minister, National Health Commission of the People’s Republic of China, Cui Li, revealed there are over 1,000 Chinese doctors working in 48 African countries.

“In the Johannesburg 2015 Summit, President Xi Jinping announced that China will roll out 10 major plans to boost cooperation with Africa within three years. The 10 major plans cover the areas of industrialisation, agricultural modernisation, infrastructure, financial services, green development, trade and investment facilitation, poverty reduction and public welfare, public health, people-to-people exchanges, and peace and security. In the area of public health, the Chinese government has been able to establish 21 hospitals and many medical demonstration centres in Africa,” she said.

She said China stands ready to continue to dispatch medical personnel to Africa as evident during the Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone, Guinea, Liberia and Democratic Republic of Congo.

According to her, China has established a disease surveillance, prevention and control centre, in Sierra Leone which will serve countries in the sub-region.

In the last three years, she added, we have been able to roll out women and child health projects, HIV/AIDS prevention, malaria prevention and control, and supported Africans with capacity building.

“China is offering scholarships to African students to study medicine in China especially in specialised medical practice. We are working with the World Health Organisation (WHO) to realise health development for all Africans,” she said.

Minister of Health in the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Isaac Adewole, said the high-level meeting is timely especially at a time that African leaders are intensifying efforts to create a health environment for all their citizens.

Adewole said in Nigeria, a whopping sum of US$200 million has been invested in the health sector but there is still a dire need for cooperation in order to continue to provide basic healthcare services for people at all time.

“We have also been making tremendous strides to achieve Goal 3 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which is to “ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages,” he said.

Chinese Ambassador for Affairs of Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), Zhou Yuxiao, said the outcome of the 2015 Johannesburg FOCAC summit on health has been implemented.

He said that in the last three years, the Chinese government has trained 2,200 health experts from Africa and over 1,000 medical personnel are sent to work in Africa.

“Health is about people’s livelihood and development and China is always ready to cooperate with Africa to enhance healthy lives,” he said.

Minister of Health from Sao Tome and Principe, Maria Troada Santos, said China has sent many medical experts to her country and they are doing very well, adding that among these experts are those doing acupuncture.

“China has also dispatched drugs and medical devices to us and the latter have been used to detect diseases easy. Support from China and Brazil has enabled us to significantly reduce malaria in the country,” she said.

However, Minister Santos said non-infectious diseases are on the increase while infectious disease are reducing, noting that there is an urgent need to upgrade their health system now that her country is cooperating with China in this regard.

Ummy Mwalimu, Minister of Health in Tanzania, said China has always been a friend to Africa, noting that in Tanzania, China has been supporting the health sector since 1968.

“Since that time, China has sent 22 batches of medical personnel, totaling to over 1,000, to Tanzania. We have collaborated in research in the area of traditional Chinese medicine,” she noted.

She said China has been providing training opportunities for African medical experts, which has subsequently improved healthcare service delivery in the continent.

Representative of WHO’s Africa Regional Office, Joseph Cabore, said Africa needs high quality and effective healthcare system.

He called on China to support Africa in the area of local production of medical products which will subsequently boost healthcare in Africa.

Yu Wenming, Commissioner at the National Administration of Traditional Chinese Medicine, said China has been producing traditional Chinese medicine for a very long time.

He noted that Chinese wisdom for maintaining human health though traditional Chinese medicine has saved 1.5 million lives from malaria in China since the year 2000.

“We have established 54,243 traditional Chinese medicine institutions across the country that will enable us to achieve “Goal 3” of the United Nations SDGs. We have the world’s largest national medical care network,” he said.

He noted that plans are underway to set up a traditional medicine institution in Morocco this year, adding that in recent years many African students have become traditional medical experts.