More Chinese medical aid heads to Africa

Updated: 2014-11-19 11:27

By Wang Xiaodong(

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China has deployed more than 20,000 medical workers to 51 countries and regions in Africa, and trained tens of thousands of local doctors and nurses, since it started to provide medical assistance to the continent in 1963, according to the National Health and Family Planning Commission.

In the latest round of assistance, two military medical teams comprising more than 200 members left for Liberia and Sierra Leone on Friday night to help West African countries hit by the Ebola epidemic. More than 5,000 people have died of the virus since the outbreak in Africa this March, according to the World Health Organization.

Many of the medical team members sent on Friday have taken part in major disaster relief operations such as the fight against severe acute respiratory syndrome in 2003, and their missions include building and operating an infectious disease hospital in Liberia.

China had deployed more than 260 medical staff workers and experts to Ebola-affected West African countries before Friday. In the following months, more health workers will be sent to these countries, which will bring the total number sent to 1,000, making this China's largest overseas public health assistance effort, Vice-Premier Liu Yandong said at a ceremony on Friday evening to mark the teams' latest deployment.

China will continue to assist West Africa in fighting Ebola until the epidemic is eradicated in the region, Lin Songtian, director-general of the Foreign Ministry's department of African affairs, said at an earlier media briefing.

"Although China and Africa are far apart, the two have been supporting each other over the past half century," he said.

According to a white paper released by the State Council Information Office, 43 medical teams from China are working in 42 African countries and China has helped Africa build nearly 30 hospitals and 30 malaria treatment centers and provided medicines and medical equipment worth 800 million yuan ($130 million) in the past few years.

Cooperation in health is an important part of Sino-Africa cooperation, and China will continue its longstanding medical assistance to Africa, President Xi Jinping said at a meeting with African health officials last year.

The friendship between China and Africa "has a long history and is forever young", Xi said. "Trust and sincerity between the two sides are more valuable than gold. China and Africa have similar historic experiences and development tasks and I believe we also share bright prospects for development."

China's assistance accounts for a great share of the total aid received in Guinea for fighting Ebola, according to the Foreign Ministry. The epidemic prevention materials used in the 10 neighboring countries are almost entirely from China, the ministry said.

Liang Xiaofeng, deputy director of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, who arrived in Freetown, capital of Sierra Leone, one of the worst-hit nations by Ebola, last Monday, said Chinese medical assistance to Africa used to focus on material assistance, such as building hospitals, but in the future China will pay more attention to help Africa build and improve its public health system, and intensify cooperation with African countries on medical research.

Liang is leading a 12-member medical team consisting of public health experts, two doctors and health officials to provide training to 10,000 people in Sierra Leone and neighboring countries in the following two months, including doctors and nurses, social workers, government officials, students and volunteers, to help them fight the deadly disease.

"Most countries in Africa are developing countries and they lack basic primary healthcare systems," he said. "(The lesson of the Ebola outbreak) shows how difficult it is to contain infectious diseases without a sound disease prevention and control system."

"We are also planning to conduct long-term cooperation with African counterparts in medical science and research," he said.