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Supporting Africa in Fighting Ebola: China acts on both symptoms and root cause

2014-11-23 03:24

Epidemics are the most dreaded of all. Since April, West Africa has been plagued by Ebola, which has taken a heavy toll on its people and economy. It has exacerbated the situation in West African countries where economic development is backward and public health resources are far from adequate.

In order to help these countries combat the epidemic, China is not only continuing to provide assistance to help overcome the deadly disease as soon as possible, but is also looking towards the post-Ebola era by offering to help African countries enhance their public health security and capacity building system, and address both the symptoms and the root cause of the disease. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said,“we need to address both the emergency and the root cause,” when he attended the High-level Meeting on Response to the Ebola Virus Disease Outbreak of the United Nations in New York in September.

First, we should strengthen personnel training. On the early morning of Nov. 9, the first Chinese public health training team left Beijing for Sierra Leone to study how to carry out training for public health professionals in West Africa, and smooth the way for large-scale training programs in the future. This is the fifth time that the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention has sent an expert team to West Africa to prevent and control Ebola. In its fourth assistance plan, China made arrangements to host 12 sessions on public health and epidemic prevention and control in 2015 for the three most-hit West African countries, the African Union, the Economic Community of West African States and other African national and regional organizations, pledging to train officials and managing staff and health professionals in the field.

Second, we should make the most of China Medical Team deployed in the affected countries and deepen China-Africa cooperation in medical research. China's medical aid to Africa is one of the oldest Sino-African cooperation projects, which benefit most countries and is deeply welcomed by the African people. During the past five decades, China has sent some 20,000 doctors to 51 countries and regions in Africa and has treated hundreds of millions of patients. China has helped Africa build 68 hospitals, as well as 30 anti-malaria centers, spread across the continent. Currently, China is fully integrating these precious resources, while actively considering setting up a treatment and research center for pathogens and tropical diseases, to carry out related joint research and share experiences.

Third, we should actively participate in multilateral cooperation to facilitate the international community's aid efforts in Africa. No single African country is capable of tackling the rapidly-spreading epidemic alone. China is actively considering sending experts to join the African Union's plan to establish the Center for Tropical Disease Control, to help African countries improve their mechanism and capability for disease prevention and control. China is also a regular participant in the core members meeting of the United Nations Global Ebola Crisis Response, sending officials to take on senior roles in the taskforce, and to play its active role in continuously driving forward the international community's charitable efforts.

China has proved and will continue to prove through concrete actions that its efforts to fight the Ebola epidemic are not for temporary show, and nor are they out of China's own interests; instead, such efforts are sincere and are meant to help African countries combat the epidemic in the short term and strengthen their public health system while building up disease prevention capabilities in the long term, to ensure epidemics such as Ebola do not recur and spread.

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