Gov’t committed to deepening ties with China

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-Foreign Affairs Minister

June 25, 2018

Hassan Gbassay Koroma

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Strenthening mutual cooperation: Dr. Ali Kabba and Amb. Wu Peng

Sierra Leone’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Dr. Alie Kabba, has assured government’s commitment to deepening ties between Sierra Leone and China for more cooperation in areas that promote the welfare of citizens of both countries.

“Over the years, China has been helping in capacity-building by providing scholarships and training personnel to improve the health system. The government is committed to deepening the tie between both countries for more cooperation in areas that promote the welfare of the people,” he said.

Dr. Kabba was speaking last Thursday (June 21) at the Chinese Embassy in Freetown during a public reception in honour of the outgoing 19th China Medical Team.

He noted that the friendship between Sierra Leone and China spans over 45 years and that it was built on the foundation of trust and mutual respect.

He said the reception was not only meant to bid farewell to the 19th China Medical Team, but to express appreciation to Chinese doctors and health experts who stood in harm’s way during the Ebola scourge, adding that the government and people of Sierra Leone appreciate their invaluable contributions in restoring health and safety to the nation.

“A nation with a broken healthcare system cannot prosper. Development is much more appreciated in a country when its people are in sound health and mind. That is why the government, under the leadership of President Julius Maada Bio, places priority on establishing a robust healthcare system that is efficient, reliable, cost-effective, affordable and sustainable capable of responding to epidemics such as cholera, Ebola virus disease, Lassa virus, Zika and others,” he said.

He continued that the government and people of Sierra Leone welcome the 20th Chinese Medical Team that is due to arrive in the country, and expressed hope that the team would help transform the country’s healthcare system.

The Foreign Minister said the construction of the P3 Laboratory and establishment of virus detection mechanism resonates with President Bio’s New Direction agenda, which, he said, underscores the need for improved surveillance system to prevent the spread of virus outbreak.

On his part, Chinese Ambassador to Sierra Leone, WU Peng, said China has deployed over 70 Chinese doctors and health experts in the country, working with their local colleagues at the Jui hospital, P3 Laboratory and 34 Military Hospital.

Ambassador Wu noted that the occasion fully reflects how friendly and close the relationship between China and Sierra Leone is, not only in the fight against Ebola epidemic but also in the fight for the health and wellbeing of Sierra Leoneans.

Speaking in the area of health, he commended the twenty members of the 19th China medical team and the excellent job they have done at the Jui Hospital, adding that the team, led- Dr. Liang Lihui, started work in June 2017 and in the past one year treated more than 30,000 outpatients, provided different kinds of volunteer medical services, performed more than 300 important surgeries, including lot of difficult surgeries done successfully at the Jui Hospital

The top Chinese diplomat in Sierra Leone said that during the Ebola Epidemic, China assisted Sierra Leone to build a P3 Laboratory and sent six Detection Team to help conduct Ebola virus detection, adding that currently the Chinese CDC Detection Team, led by Dr. Xiao Ning, together with their local colleagues, have not only done well in the area of Ebola virus detection but also the commencement of research in malaria, Zika, Lassa virus and tropical diseases.

The Chinese ambassador said that the Chinese People’s Army attached great importance to the cooperation with the Sierra Leone Army, and that the second team of ten medical experts, led by Dr. Guo Xuejun from the Chinese Military Medical Institutions, has conducted a number of detection and treatment work on African Infectious Diseases, studied the development of medical problems and trained local medical workers at the 34 Military Hospital since last year.

Also speaking, Sierra Leone’s Chief of Defence Staff, Major-General Brima Sesay, said the event marked another significant milestone in the continued friendship between the People’s Liberation Army of China and the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces (RSLAF), adding that the two forces have been enjoying very cordial relationship and would continue to enjoy strong bilateral ties for mutual benefit.

Major-General Sesay opined that public health issues were a growing concern for the country, but with the help of the Chinese Government, the nation has a brighter future for the coming generation.

He revealed that on 5th July, the official commissioning and signing of ‘taking over’ certificate of the newly constructed Infectious Diseases Prevention and Control Centre would be held.

The Defence Chief said the millions-of-United States dollar project was supported and built by the Chinese Government to improve the country’s health system by expanding and addressing the growing challenges of emerging infectious diseases – a development that would definitely benefit the 34 Military Hospital.

He said the Ministry of Defence was also aware of Chinese contributions geared towards improving the Joint Medical Unit and the RSLAF, including provision of training through the 302 Hospital in China for 22 Joint Military Unit medical personnel, including one administrator, two doctors, and 19 nurses at the Infectious Diseases Prevention and Control.

Major-General Sesay noted that the objective of the training was to prepare potential medical personnel who have been identified to work at the soon-to-be-commissioned Infectious Diseases Prevention and Control Centre.