By Zou Song, People’s Daily
China-Africa health cooperation is an important part of China-Africa cooperation. In 1963, China’s first medical team was dispatched to Algeria, marking the beginning of the country’s medical assistance for Africa. Over the past six decades, generations of Chinese medical workers have written a series of moving stories with their wisdom, dedication and even lives, constantly consolidating the friendship between China and Africa.
One of the longest and most effective cooperation projects that involves the greatest number of African countries is the dispatch of Chinese medical teams.
From offering outpatient service and free clinics to providing medical training, and to setting up specialized hospitals in Africa, batches of Chinese medical workers have worked to benefit local people with their medical proficiency and medical ethics, making important contributions to building a China-Africa community of health for all.
The headquarters building of the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was completed in January this year in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The China-aided modern structure is of important significance for improving Africa’s capability in disease prevention, monitoring and epidemic response.
Over the years, China has jointly launched public health cooperation projects on the prevention and control of malaria, bilharzia and yellow fever with Tanzania, the Comoros and other countries and international organizations.
In 2014, China dispatched over 1,000 clinical and public health experts to join the fight against the deadly Ebola virus in West Africa. After the COVID-19 pandemic broke out, the country sent expert teams and temporary pandemic-relief teams to 17 African countries and instructed medical assistance teams in some 40 African countries to help local communities get through difficulties.
China has actively launched COVID-19 vaccine cooperation with African countries and improved the accessibility and affordability of vaccines in Africa through donation and joint production.
Tshilidzi Bethuel Munyai, member of the Parliament of South Africa, called self-sufficient supply of vaccines a cornerstone of Africa’s public health, saying China has always been helping Africa achieve this goal.
China-Africa health cooperation has been included in the 10 major cooperation projects, eight major initiatives and nine programs under the framework of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC).
At the 8th Ministerial Conference of the FOCAC held in 2021, China announced that it would provide another one billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines to Africa, undertake 10 medical and health projects for African countries, and send 1,500 medical personnel and public health experts to Africa. This has significantly boosted the confidence in and injected strong impetus into China-Africa health cooperation.
Monique Nsanzabaganwa, Deputy Chairperson of the African Union Commission, said Africa and China have reaped fruitful results in their health cooperation, which is a vivid example of China’s commitment to its promises.
China takes it as a priority to help African countries enhance medical specialty. As of 2021, China had helped 18 African countries establish 20 centers in different medical specialties, covering cardiology, critical care medicine, trauma and endoscopy. Paired cooperation mechanisms had been established between the Chinese side and 45 hospitals in 40 African countries. Besides, China had trained 20,000 African medical personnel. African medical workers’ skills and African countries’ medical systems have been constantly improved thanks to the joint efforts made by both Chinese and African sides.
China has aided a general hospital in Niger, which is the largest in the country and one of the largest in West Africa. The hospital serves as an important base for China-Niger health cooperation.
Director of the hospital’s cardiology department Saidou Labo said through paired cooperation, China has helped the Nigerien side build a national cardiology and neurology center and donated advanced medical equipment, medicines and consumable items to Niger.
“China also helps us improve our clinical capability through regular skill training,” he said.
African countries are looking forward to and have faith in deepening China-Africa health cooperation. In early 2022, the Neurological Center of the China-Guinea Friendship Hospital was completed in Conakry, capital of Guinea after nearly three years of construction. A training session was held by the Chinese side, which trained multiple neurological experts for Guinea. In February this year, a program under the China-Africa paired cooperation mechanism was launched in Liberia, which gives the two sides an opportunity to cooperate on the studies of cardiology. At present, a respiratory and critical care medicine cooperation program between China and Zimbabwe is well underway.
Guided by the China-Africa Cooperation Vision 2035, health cooperation has become another example of China-Africa cooperation and will lead to bigger success in building a China-Africa community of health for all.