Shared picture of health
All countries are facing severe challenges and suffering as a result of the novel coronavirus outbreak. In the face of this challenge, China and Africa are standing together, giving full play to the fine tradition of their friendly relations, strengthening their cooperation in the medical field and enhancing their policy coordination.
China was the first country to bear the brunt of the pandemic. The Chinese people battled against the virus with great courage and boosted the confidence of the world that the pandemic can be overcome. And despite its relatively weak economic strength and scarce medical resources, Africa has maintained its fight against the virus and has actively implemented prevention and control measures. Indeed, the infection rate in China and Africa is far lower than that of developed countries, despite the latter's economic advantages and greater medical resources.
The two sides' cooperation in the fight against the pandemic offers a model for international cooperation in dealing with such a global crisis, and illustrates the significance of a China-Africa community with a shared future.
Over the past six decades, China has assisted Africa in its medical and health undertakings by sending more than 10,000 medical workers to nearly 50 African countries, benefiting more than 300 million patients. Chinese medical team braved the danger to aid Western Africa when the Ebola broke out there in 2014. Supplies were delivered by eight planes to support their anti-pandemic effort, which played a key role in helping African people defeat the outbreak of the disease.
Helping others is also helping oneself. Chinese medical staff have gained experience in combating infectious diseases during their aid missions in Africa. Among dozens of medical teams and technical experts assisting Hubei province and its capital city Wuhan, many used to be medical team members or medical workers who helped Africa to fight against the Ebola virus.
China's long-term sincere help to Africa's medical and health undertakings means African leaders and the African public have full trust in China. When China suffered from the pandemic, the African governments and people, including the African Union and other regional organizations, voiced strong and timely support for China and firmly stood by the Chinese people.
When the virus began to spread in Africa, countries there responded to China's anti-pandemic advice and took its recommendations seriously, taking timely and effective prevention and control measures. That is why China and Africa have not experienced the chaos and suffering of many developed countries.
Chinese President Xi Jinping sent a clear message to the world at the critical moment of pandemic prevention in his keynote speech at the China-Africa Summit on Solidarity Against COVID-19 on June 17－China and Africa will unite more closely to win their battles against the pandemic.
The target to build the China-Africa health community has laid a solid foundation for mutual trust and sincere cooperation between the people of China and Africa, and is also a concrete initiative for China and Africa to build a community with a shared future.
China's measures and commitments are significant. They will strengthen Africa's ability to fight against the pandemic, help boost its economy and improve people's livelihoods. China will carry out accurate health assistance and cooperation, take assistance and cooperation measures tailored for different African countries, and strive to improve the efficiency of its assistance and cooperation according to the current pandemic situation in African countries.
Since the economies of African countries are relatively less developed, the per capita possession of medical materials and public health facilities is far lower than the global average, despite the fact they are under heavy pressure from infectious diseases. The timely provision of medical materials and the assistance of medical experts are therefore of crucial importance for Africa's anti-pandemic fight.
China should not only provide urgently needed anti-pandemic materials to African countries in the short term, but also seek to improve their long-term medical and health conditions and development capacity. China has clearly promised to prioritize African countries' use of a COVID-19 vaccine should the country successfully develop one. At the same time, China will start to build the headquarters for an African center for disease control and prevention this year, and work with Africa to implement the Health Action Plan within the framework of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, accelerate the construction of China-Africa friendship hospitals and the cooperation between China's hospitals and their paired counterparts, and work to jointly build a China-Africa health community.
China's material and financial aid to Africa and the exchange of medical technology and anti-pandemic experience between the two sides should be promoted simultaneously. As President Xi pointed out in his speech, China remains committed to implementing the measures announced at the virtual meeting of the 73rd World Health Assembly by providing medical supplies, sending medical experts to Africa and assisting Africa in purchasing anti-pandemic materials. In the future, China can also send more expert groups and consultants to African countries to improve their national overall planning and community management in the anti-pandemic fight.
China needs to promote cooperation in the medical industry, health consumer products, medical information network construction and other aspects between the two sides, and promote basic medical industry in African countries through market-oriented sustainable measures, which will greatly help Africa's long-term medical development.
At present, China continues to provide a large amount of material humanitarian support according to the actual situations of African countries. At the same time, it helps African countries purchase anti-pandemic materials through a market-oriented approach, strongly supporting their long-term war against the pandemic.
Both sides should value their medical knowledge, experience and local resources, especially traditional medicine; establish a localized medical and health management system that fits their social and cultural backgrounds; and prioritize the construction of an applicable, economic and affordable medical and health system for ordinary people, so as to safeguard Chinese and African people's health.
The author is the director of the Institute of African Studies at Zhejiang Normal University. The author contributed this article to China Watch, a think tank powered by China Daily. The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.