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Medical teams cement China-Africa Ties

Updated: 2017-04-21

The populations of China, the world's largest developing country, and Africa, the continent with the most developing countries, account for one-third of the world's population. The Chinese and African peoples have extended mutual support in the struggle for national independence and liberation and carried out wholehearted cooperation in national rejuvenation, ensuring the happiness of their peoples and upholding the noble cause of world peace. They have forged a brotherly friendship of shared destiny and fortune.

When the 2nd Ministerial Forum on China-Africa Health Cooperation was held in Cape Town, South Africa, in October 2015, Liu Yandong, member of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the CPC and vice premier of the State Council, sent congratulations to the meeting. She said that China-Africa health cooperation is facing unprecedented opportunities. After the new goal of "ensuring healthy lives for people of all ages and promoting health and well-being" was set in the recent special summit of the United Nations General Assembly, the China-Africa forum responded to the United Nations sustainable development agenda as well as new demands of the peoples of Africa and China for a healthy life and access to new trends of health care. China will continue to follow the approach of upholding justice while pursuing shared interests and the principles of sincerity, real results, affinity, and good faith, in an effort to strengthen China-Africa health cooperation and the health of their peoples, with concerted action by China, Africa and the international community. 

The dispatch of medical teams to African countries is the longest-running and most effective cooperation program involving the largest number of countries in China and Africa. Carrying forward the fine tradition of China with full patriotism, selfless dedication and delicate medical skills, medical teams and their members have overcome difficulties to contribute greatly to the development of health care in the recipient countries, thus deepening their friendship with China. For this reason, the teams are warmly welcomed and widely praised by the governments and people of the recipient countries, and hailed as a "model of South-South Cooperation". The team members are called angels in white, amicable ambassadors and diplomats in white.

Since China sent its first medical team to Algeria in 1963, the teams have been marked with more than half a century of glorious history. By 2015, China had sent 20,000 foreign medical workers to 50 African countries, and diagnosed and treated almost 210 million patients. In 2016, nearly 1,000 medical personnel were working in 40 African countries. 

Faced with the outbreak of Ebola in West Africa in 2014, China, together with the international community, provided assistance to the countries affected and tided the west African people over the crisis. The assistance included four rounds of aid worth more than 750 million yuan to 13 countries in and around the afflicted area and 1,200 medical and nursing workers. China also attaches great importance to strengthening public health, and has transported mobile biosafety laboratories to Sierra Leone and helped construct biosafety laboratories to enhance virus detection capacity. Besides, over 30 expert public health teams, experts in clinical and laboratory testing, were dispatched to 11 countries, including Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia, and about 13,000 medical and public health workers were trained in remote areas. 

As the global economic landscape changes, health needs of a vast number of recipient countries change and bilateral cooperation needs to go further. Since 2014, the Chinese government has put a series of innovative foreign aid programs in place, and hospital twinning initiatives were launched consecutively in such countries as Ghana, Cape Verde, and Guinea. Several centres, including the China-Ghana Cardiothoracic Centre, the China-Cape Centre for Women's Health and the China-Guinea Centre for Critical Care, were built to support the recipient countries in enhancing key disciplines, implementing diagnosis and treatment services, building capacity in human resources, technology and management, and pushing beneficiaries' medical service and management to a new level. 

Chinese medical teams, since 2014, have undertaken the "Brightness Trip" program in 14 countries, including Morocco, Mauritania, and Ghana. Five thousand cataract surgeries were completed in 2016 alone, and African countries such as Mauritania, Burundi, and Sierra Leone also benefitted in the following year. 

For more than half a century, generations of foreign aid medical personnel, mindful of the great trust of the Party and the state, have kept up the spirit of international humanitarianism and overcome numerous difficulties while staying far away from the motherland and their families. They have won the trust and support of the governments and peoples of the recipient countries and deepened the traditional friendship between all affected peoples. They are linked by their devotion to duty, professional medical skills, noble medical ethics, and altruism. Chinese medical teams for foreign aid set an outstanding example of Chinese medical personnel in the international community. We must never forget that over 50 Chinese medical personnel have made the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty and will always be remembered by the world.


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