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New measures to boost China-Africa Cooperation on public health

Ambassador Dr. Zhao Yanbo
Last week, the 73rd World Health Assembly (WHA) was successfully held virtually in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Delegates from almost every country in the world were present and adopted a landmark resolution to bring the world together to fight the novel coronavirus, sending a strong message that global unity is our most powerful tool to combat the outbreak.

Just as WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said, for everything COVID-19 has taken from us, it has also given us something: a reminder of what really matters and the opportunity to forge a common future.

At the opening ceremony of the WHA, Chinese President Xi Jinping delivered a speech at the invitation of Dr. Tedros.

In the speech, President Xi made six proposals for fighting against the pandemic, including doing everything we can for COVID-19 control and treatment, upholding WHO’s leadership role in the global response, providing greater support for Africa, strengthening global governance in the area of public health, restoring economic and social development, and strengthening international cooperation.

President Xi also announced five important measures to strengthen global cooperation against COVID-19, including providing US$2 billion of international aid, especially for the developing countries in the next two years, working with the UN to set up a global humanitarian response depot and hub in China, establishing cooperation mechanism for its hospitals to pair up with 30 African hospitals and accelerating the building of the Africa CDC headquarters, making China’s COVID-19 vaccine development and deployment a global public good when available, and working with other G20 members to implement the Debt Service Suspension Initiative for the poorest countries.

China is also ready to work with the international community to bolster support for the hardest-hit countries under the greatest strain so that they could tide over the current difficulties.

Currently, COVID-19 is still rampant around the world.

If there

is one thing we could learn from this crisis, it’s that the life and health of people in different countries have never been so closely connected.

Also, it has never been made so clear to us that all nations live in the same global village and that humanity is in fact a community with a shared future.

One country’s success does not mean the end of the global pandemic.

Only when the virus is defeated in all countries can we claim a true victory. Developing countries, African countries in particular, have weaker public health systems.

Helping them build capacity must be the top priority in COVID-19 response.

It was with this belief that China, since the outbreak of the pandemic, has held a series of video conferences with health experts from African countries to share our experiences of diagnosis, treatment and control without any reservation, donated multiple batches of quality medical supplies and equipment to all those in need, and sent medical expert teams to Africa’s five sub-regions and surrounding countries.

By so doing, we are also reciprocating the support we received from our African brothers.

Furthermore, the new measures announced by President Xi have injected new impetus into not only China-Africa, but also international cooperation on public health.

Our two sides, China and Botswana should take this opportunity to further strengthen our joint fight against COVID-19 and advance the implementation of the new measures announced by President Xi at the 73rd WHA and the health initiative adopted by the 2018 FOCAC Beijing Summit, which aim at helping African countries boost their public health capacity.

Let’s work together to contribute to a China-Africa community of health for our two peoples.

*Dr. Zhao Yanbo is Chinese Ambassador to Botswana

Zhao Yanbo*

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