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China and WHO to jointly create 'health Silk Road'

By An Baijie in Geneva and Wang Xiaodong in Beijing | China Daily | Updated: 2017-01-20 08:28

China and the World Health Organization agreed on Wednesday to jointly implement a health project based on the Belt and Road Initiative.

President Xi Jinping and Margaret Chan, WHO director-general, watched as the two sides signed a preliminary agreement at WHO headquarters in Geneva. The WHO is the first global organization of the United Nations to have agreed to such a project with China.

China welcomes the WHO to jointly establish a "health Silk Road", Xi said, adding that China would like to work more closely with the WHO in fulfilling the UN's 2030 sustainable development goals and assisting developing countries.

Chan spoke highly of China's contributions to the work of the WHO and the country's role in global health governance.

The WHO would like to work with China in an effort to improve the health of the people along the route of the initiative, she added.

"The agreement is a result of decades of successful partnership between China and the WHO in global health cooperation," the WHO China office said in a statement on Thursday. "This includes sending 1,200 medical workers in response to the Ebola crisis in West Africa, and China's recent contribution to WHO efforts to distribute medical supplies in Syria and to WHO emergency medical teams, a newly established program to ensure a more flexible and rapid response to national outbreaks and disasters."

The agreement brings to the international realm the same pledge Xi made last year in the Healthy China 2030 plan, which puts health at the core of domestic development, the WHO said.

The WHO looks forward to working with member countries involved in the Belt and Road Initiative to help emphasize health in economic growth strategies and decision-making, as well as supporting expanded health services delivery and disease prevention and control, it said.

Liu Peilong, director of the Global Health Department at Peking University, said the agreement is a milestone. "It will extend the bilateral cooperation to countries involved in the Belt and Road Initiative and ... contribute to global health security," he said.

Wang Longde, a member of the Chinese Academy of Engineering and a former vice-minister, said, "Intensifying cooperation with the WHO can help China realize its own health target, and it contributes to improved health globally."

China will host the first Belt and Road Initiative international forum in Beijing in May, which is part of China's efforts to make globalization more inclusive and beneficial to all, Xi said at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, on Tuesday. The initiative helps connect China with nations in Europe, Asia and other areas via infrastructure and trade.

Contact the writers at anbaijie@chinadaily.com.cn and wangxiaodong@chinadaily.com.cn

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