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China steps up ambitious health project in Africa

By Fatima Bulla (People's Daily)    13:47, June 11, 2018

An ambitious African Center for Disease Prevention and Control building project and bilateral cooperation in the health sector are set for implementation as China cement its commitment to the continent through the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation.

Following an outbreak of Ebola, China committed to establish the African CDC.

Apart from sending health specialists to the center, the Chinese Government through this public health cooperation provided training to African medical specialists in China.

China’s National Health Commission revealed last week that they will design several buildings which include a laboratory and a training center for the headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in pursuit of promises made pertaining to a host of projects lined up.

Deputy Director General in the Department of International Cooperation, Mr. Feng Yong, said the center is one of China’s key projects to support the African continent in strengthening public health structures.

“Under our framework of supporting the African CDC not only are we going to support the infrastructure building but also we would like to also have some public health program with African CDC. The first one is about emergency Infectious Disease Prevention and Control.

“The second one is about malaria and the third one is about schistosomasis because we believe in these three areas we have our technology, products and lessons as well.

"We would like to share our lessons with African countries. This is in public health areas,” Mr. Feng said.

Since they sent their first medical team to Algeria in 1963, China has assisted a total of 200 million patients globally. Each year there are 1,000 medical experts working in Africa while currently they are assisting 44 African countries.

With such commitment, China will move a notch higher assisting with clinical services with a focus on Hospital Cooperation.

Under this endeavor will be the launch of the Africa-China Hospital Project where countries which have demonstrated strong performance in previous cooperation will receive Chinese medical teams to upgrade support of the locals.

On the backdrop of this project, China will integrate all its support including medical teams, health training and equipment donation for maternal and child health programs.

Further a Sister Hospital Cooperation under which 15 countries have already been benefiting will have five more countries added on the list by the end of this year.

Through this project hospitals that are not in good condition will be refurbished and assisted with technical services with doctors and nurses being invited to China for training.

Zimbabwe is one of the 15 benefiting countries of the Sister Hospital Cooperation specifically in the area of urology. In addition it is also among the seven countries receiving assistance under the Maternal and Child Health Projects.

“This program will focus on Speciality Cooperation. For example in Kenya we have China-Kenya Friendship Hospital and we will focus our support on neurology.

“And we would like to significantly increase the technical level of neurological care in the hospital within three years. So the sister project will focus on specialized areas like neurology, gynecology, obstetrical operations,” Mr. Feng added.

Beijing is already gearing up for the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation which is slated for September. And the National Health Commission in its bid to present substantive proposals on the cooperation with Africa will hold its own high level meeting a month earlier.

Mr. Feng said they will invite experts and high level officials in areas of disease prevention and control from Africa as well as international organizations.

Under the New Era of China-Africa Cooperation and Common Development put forward by President Xi Jinping, the second largest economy in the world states that it will help Africa strengthen its public health prevention and control system.

The China-Africa Public Health program is one of the ten initiatives to be implemented by China to build a comprehensive strategic and cooperative partnership.

Since 2015 China has also donated anti-malaria drugs and refurbished 27 hospitals in African countries.

They also played a critical role through supporting health emergency response for instance in 2014 when they supported Ebola prevention and control in West African countries like Kenya, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

In 2016 the Chinese Government assisted in controlling yellow fever in Angola.

Further, last week they also sent public health experts to support the Democratic Republic of Congo with vaccines and laboratory testing services as the southern-African country is experiencing a resurgence of the Ebola outbreak.

In addition, last year China provided training for more than 1,000 health workers in African countries. The health workers went through a short term course consisting of health policy, prevention and treatment of infectious diseases among other programs.

As the FOCAC Summit approaches expectation is high to review work that has been done since the last meeting held in South Africa in 2015 while also mapping a progressive future ahead.  

Fatima Bulla is a journalist with The Sunday Mail-Zimbabwe

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Bianji, Hongyu)

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