|Home Nation World Business Opinion Lifestyle ChinAfrica Multimedia Columnists Documents Special Reports|
|Building a Healthier Society|
|Sino-African health cooperation grows with the completion of the Africa CDC Headquarters building|
|By Kiram Tadesse 丨VOL. 15 March 2023 ·2023-02-23|
Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang and Chairperson of the AUC Moussa Faki Mahamat at the inauguration of the new Africa CDC Headquarters building on 11 January (MESFIN SOLOMON)
The new gleaming headquarters building of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) was inaugurated by the African Union Commission (AUC) in January 2023, with the special guest being the new Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang, who was on his maiden visit to Africa since assuming office.
Located in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s capital and seat of the AUC, the construction of the Africa CDC Headquarters is supported by the Chinese government, as a part of its commitments at the Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation held in China in 2018.
Speaking at the inauguration ceremony, Qin said the new Africa CDC building tells the world with irrefutable facts that China has always supported Africa with concrete actions, and China-Africa relations will have an even brighter future.
“It is a new monument built with the traditional friendship and hard work of Chinese and African brothers and sisters,” said Qin.
State-of-the-art health centre
The AUC Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat, who shared Qin’s sentiment on Sino-African relations, said that the building is only the visible face of a health cooperation that has its roots in the depths of the relationship.
“China always supports Africa and the completion of the Africa CDC Headquarters building reflects such cooperation,” said Mahamat.
Africa CDC was officially launched in January 2017, a year after its establishment by the 26th Ordinary Session of the African Union (AU) Heads of States and Governments as a specialised technical institution of the AU. It is set to support public health initiatives of AU members and strengthen the capacity of their public health institutions to detect, prevent, control and respond quickly and effectively to disease threats across the continent.
China’s commitments to support Africa’s public health system through the construction of the Africa CDC Headquarters building date back to late 2015. Following a number of agreements, the AU and the Chinese government signed the implementation agreement on the Africa CDC Headquarters building project in July 2020.
The $80-million state-of-the-art Africa CDC Headquarters rests in an area of 90,000 square metres with a total construction area of nearly 40,000 square metres. It includes, among other facilities, a data centre, an emergency operation centre, a laboratory, a resource centre, briefing rooms, training and conference centres, offices, and expatriate apartments.
The AU expects the new headquarters to become one of the best-equipped centres for disease control in Africa. The institution is also set to serve as a platform for AU members to share and exchange knowledge and lessons from public health interventions.
Ever since China sent its first medical mission to Ethiopia, Mei Gengnian has remained a dignified name in the medical cooperation history of the two countries. Mei was head of the first Chinese medical team to Ethiopia, who died in 1975 in a car accident, while he was serving local communities in Jimma, some 300 km from Addis Ababa. Laid to rest near the spot where he passed away, today his grave is being tended by local community members. Mei’s eldest son Mei Xueqian has followed in his father’s footsteps by joining a medical mission to Ethiopia in 1998.
Close to five decades into Mei’s legacy today, it is common to see Chinese medical personnel serving at Tirunesh Beijing General Hospital, which is also known as Ethio-China Friendship Hospital, in Akaki-Kality neighbourhood in the outskirts of Addis Ababa. Named after Tirunesh Dibaba, an Ethiopian female athlete who won two gold medals at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the hospital was built with financial support from the Chinese government at a cost of $12.7 million. Since its inauguration in 2012, the hospital has been serving as a base for Chinese medical team members dispatched from across provinces in China who come to the country and share their expertise.
The Chinese government dispatched its first medical team to Africa in 1963; diplomats see this cooperation in the medical and health area as an important part of Sino-African relations. Besides an all-round cooperation in the health sector over the years, the Sino-African health partnership has taken shape in major public health emergencies, including the fight against malaria, Ebola and COVID-19.
When the Ebola crisis hit West Africa in 2014-2016, China took the initiative to join hands in the fight against the epidemic. This demonstrated the country’s willingness and ability to play a substantial role in addressing the public health emergencies of international concern, according to a study by Jean-Pierre Cabestan, professor of political science at Hong Kong Baptist University. This early intervention includes dispatch of a mobile laboratory team to Sierra Leone to enhance the laboratory testing capacity for Ebola virus disease, in response to World Health Organisation’s appeal for further assistance to Ebola response efforts.
Conducting capacity building training and workshops, establishment of hospitals and disease prevention and treatment centres, and donation of medicines and medical equipment were some of the major activities.
Amid Ethiopia’s effort to eliminate malaria by 2030, the Chinese government financed the building of the Malaria and NTD (neglected tropical disease) Research and Training Centre in Adama, some 90 km from Addis Ababa, formerly Nazareth World Health Organisation Malaria Training Centre. Inaugurated in 2022, the centre is now administrated under the Armauer Hansen Research Institute. According to China’s Ministry of Commerce, as early as 2009, Chinese medical experts trained local doctors and experts, while they also helped to install and adjust the anti-malaria equipment that China donated to the centre.
“The centre is set to help the national effort to end malaria and neglected tropical diseases,” said Dereje Dillu, technical advisor of the National Malaria Elimination Programme at Ethiopia’s Ministry of Health.
Dillu, who himself participated in an exchange programme in China, said the Chinese played an instrumental role in supporting Ethiopia’s effort to eliminate malaria. “Ethiopia even adopted its malaria surveillance model from China,” he told ChinAfrica.
He indicated major capacity building activities that target malaria include experience sharing, surveillance, case identification, diagnosis and elimination. “The capacity building programme helped African health experts to meet in China and share the practice from each other,” said Dillu.
While seeing off the 22nd term of Chinese medical teams at the end of 2021, who had served a 12-month stint at Tirunesh Bejing General Hospital, Ethiopia’s Health Minister Lia Tadesse thanked the Chinese government for the continued support in strengthening the country’s health system.
Helping in the fight against COVID-19
As COVID-19 pandemic became an international public health emergency, China stepped forward in the fight against the virus. Its assistance to Ethiopia includes donation of vaccines and disease prevention medical supplies, and deployment of anti-pandemic medical expert teams.
“China has provided very important assistance for Ethiopia’s efforts to address challenges and achieve economic and social development,” said Ethiopian Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Demeke Mekonnen at a joint press conference with Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang on 10 January 2023.
While Ethiopian officials vowed to further strengthen the bilateral relations with China through practical cooperation in such fields as digital economy and agriculture, Qin reiterated his country’s commitment to maintain the cooperation with Ethiopia in various fields including through the Belt and Road Initiative.
Reporting from Ethiopia
|About Us | Contact Us | Advertise with Us | Subscribe|
|Copyright Beijing Review All rights reserved 京ICP备08005356号-5 京公网安备110102005860号|