jeudi, 08 septembre 2016 12:24

Impact of China-West Africa Healthcare Cooperation

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In 2013 China and Africa celebrated a golden jubilee of health care cooperation, a fiftieth anniversary marked by fruitful sharing of knowledge, ambitious sanitary programs, countless material, technical and financial donations and sincere collaboration – the fruit of sustained commitment by both parties. In 2012, China and Africa made a number of new commitments during the Forum on the China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) conference in Beijing, notably for the improvement of access to health care in Africa, commitments that both parties aimed to implement through a three-year Action Plan (2013-2015). 2014 was another crucial year for Chinese sanitary assistance to West Africa.

By Fousseni SAIBOU

China-Africa cooperation, now older than fifty years is better than ever before.
Formerly dominated by the Western presence, this cooperation took a decisive turning point from the year 2009 with the economic boom of China, which has now become the second world economic power after United States of America. The volume of Sino- African trade in 2013 for the first time exceeded 200 billion US dollars, from only 250 million dollars in 1965. This makes China the leading commercial partner of the black continent. Africa and China owe the dynamism of their cooperation to win-win partnership, which they have always aimed to develop between them.

China is not the only one to take advantage of this partnership as some people may think. Africa too wins at it. Thanks to this partnership, Africa not only has a safe outlet for its raw materials, but also benefits from Chinese development aid in several domains such as infrastructure, health, human resources, agriculture, culture. China indeed has had an aid policy towards Africa since the middle of the 1950s. This aid has since 1976 seen a gradual increase. For example, it jumped from 44 million dollars in 2005 to 88 million in 2009.  

At the end of this Forum on China-African Cooperation (FOCAC) meeting in 2012, China made a commitment to increase its aid for Africa. Health is one of the sectors benefitting from Chinese assistance. Almost all the African partner countries have already received support from China in this domain and West Africa is the largest beneficiary of the last three years (2013-2015).

Fighting Ebola: Strengthened sanitary cooperation in West Africa

2014 was a very painful year for countries of West Africa due to the sudden appearance of the Ebola hemorrhagic fever epidemic. Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia were the most affected countries; 99 % of the affected persons come from these three neighboring countries. By July 2015 the Ebola virus had infected 25 699 people and caused 11 000 deaths. This record exceeds by far that of all the epidemics declared in Central and East Africa between 1976 and 2015 (2 500 contaminations and 1 600 deaths). Overwhelmed and unable to deal with this unprecedented sanitary disaster in West Africa, countries in the region, especially the most affected ones, have no choice but to request outside help. Many countries offered their assistance but among them China was the largest contributor. Its reaction was spontaneous with a contribution of 120 million dollars of financial, technical, material and human resources assistance to the three most affected countries and to ten other countries of the sub-region. This was an historic effort. China transported by charter flight a mobile laboratory to Sierra Leone. Liberia benefited from an Ebola treatment center equipped with 100 beds, and a plane was chartered by China to bring provisions to these countries.

All these means deployed by China hugely contributed to pushing back the Ebola epidemic in the most affected countries and to avoid its spreading to other countries of the sub-region.  The example of Cote d’Ivoire, immediate neighbor of Liberia is a case in point. There has been no known reported case in the whole country until today. During a visit to China in November 2014, the Ivoirian Minister of Foreign Affairs Charles Koffi Diby acknowledged that the sincere, rapid and effective assistance of China is one of the important factors that enabled his country to be spared by the epidemic. The end of the epidemic was declared in Liberia on 3 September 2015 by the World Health Organization (WHO). The other two countries will not take long to recover. In Sierra Leone, no new case has been reported in the four weeks between September and October 2015. And the national center for the fight against Ebola in Sierra Leone hopes by late November to be able to totally eradicate the virus.

The Ebola epidemic caused 6.2 billion dollars of losses in the affected countries in terms of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia have started to think of their reconstruction and recovery, and China promised to assist them in this process. On 10 July 2015 in New York during the summit of donors organized by the UN, China, through its permanent representative Liu Jieyi made a commitment to supply the multi-partner response fund with 5 million US dollars. The Chinese Minister of Foreign Affairs, Wang Yi, reaffirmed China’s commitment to them during his visit to Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea in August 2015. He confirmed that China will assist Sierra Leone to set up a treatment and research center on tropical diseases. The Chinese Ebola treatment unit in Liberia will continue to serve the local population.

The appearance of the Ebola epidemic revealed the weaknesses of health care systems in African countries, especially the most affected ones, e.g. (lack of qualified personnel, and adequate equipment, low subsidies for public hospitals, and dilapidated and limited health care infrastructure). In this light China has stated its commitment to continue to support Africa in general in many areas, and in the health care sector, it is going to contribute to the implementation of systems to fight diseases and improve capacities to respond to public sanitary crises.

This strong commitment of the Chinese government in the fight against the Ebola epidemic has aroused the admiration of the international community and in particular the affected countries, and particularly contributed to the strengthening of China-West Africa cooperation.
 

Equipping hospitals with ultramodern devices for the welfare of communities
 

In half a century China has constructed thirty hospitals and around thirty malaria treatment centers throughout the African continent. Togo has the privilege to benefit from two health care centers thanks to this cooperation. These are the Lomé Commune Regional hospital built in 2010 and the Regional hospital of Kara built in 1994.

Lu 19899 fois Dernière modification le samedi, 10 septembre 2016 08:59
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