China sends experts to halt Madagascar plague

By WANG XIAODONG | | Updated: 2017-10-29 17:34

China has sent six public health experts to Madagascar to help halt the recent outbreak of pneumonic plague.

The island nation reported 882 confirmed cases of the disease between Aug 1 and Oct 24, with 93 dead, according to World Health Organization data shared by the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

Authorities say the plague has spread to 39 of country's 114 districts, while the transmission risk was recently elevated from high to extremely high.

The CDC said China sent an emergency response team on Friday after receiving a call for help from Madagascar, which lies in the Indian Ocean off the coast of East Africa.

"Pathogens know no borders, and pathogens travel without need of a visa. They can easily spread across the world if effective measures are not taken," said Gao Fu, director of the CDC.

"We need to work together and implement effective public health strategies as early as possible to detect and contain a pathogen where it originates, to stop it from spreading and to protect people in the affected country, and the whole world."

The Chinese team is being led by Wang Jian, deputy director of the CDC, who has extensive experience in plague prevention and control. Alongside him are epidemiologists from the CDC as well as public health institutes in Gansu and Jilin provinces.

The team will work with the Madagascan government and international partners to support local authorities to contain the outbreak, the CDC said.

China has been offering medical and health development assistance to African countries for 55 years. Taking part in international missions to deal with public health emergencies such as the Ebola outbreak in West Africa shows the country's growing capacity to contribute to global security, and marks a new milestone in "health diplomacy", the CDC said.

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