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Investing in Youth
New China-Africa youth exchanges on health are shaping future partnerships
By Liu Jian

Over 60 young Chinese and African researchers, and representatives from international organizations, discussed key areas that young people can work on to contribute to China-Africa health cooperation at the Roundtable of Young Leaders on China-Africa Collaboration, a part of China Health Forum 2013 held on August 17 (PHOTO BY LIU JIAN)

More than 60 young professionals discussed key areas of youth-led initiatives in China-Africa health cooperation at the first Roundtable of Young Leaders on China-Africa Collaboration recently held in Beijing.

The roundtable formed part of the China Health Forum (CHF) 2013, held at China National Convention Center on August 17, and revolved around the stated theme of "outlook for China-Africa health cooperation: get ready to lead."

Promoter and organizer of the roundtable, Gao Weizhong, Secretary General of CHF and Director General of the International Health Exchange and Cooperation Center under China's National Health and Family Planning Commission, shared his views with ChinAfrica on the role youth plays in China-Africa health cooperation and his expectations on future youth exchanges.


ChinAfrica: What motivated your proposing the roundtable? What did you hope to achieve?

Gao Weizhong: This year marks the 50th anniversary of China sending its first medical teams to African countries. China is the only country to continually send medical teams to Africa for the last half century without interruption. As now we're making the plan for the next 50 years, the task ahead is how to carry on the heritage and vision of this project into the new era. The future is in the hands of the younger generation. What those young people think and do will impact the prospects of our future health cooperation.

I proposed to establish this special youth roundtable as part of CHF 2013, to give them a dialogue platform to exchange views, share experiences, build consensus, inspire ideas, and promote mutual learning among participants, so as to promote China-Africa health cooperation.


What role do you think those young leaders play in China-Africa health cooperation? What impact have they made on our health partnership?

First of all, those young people who contribute to China-Africa health collaboration demonstrate the lofty spirits of cosmopolitanism and internationalism, which embodies the values of love and care, and mutual respect. Second, as young people are more dynamic, keen, passionate and forward-looking, they can offer their suggestions for the development of China-Africa health development and cooperation. Third, through some public health programs in areas of schistosomiasis, AIDS and tuberculosis conducted between China and African countries, we can train a group of young talents including medical workers, management and technical personnel.

Youth exchanges deepen friendships, strengthen mutual respect and understanding and also, from a global perspective, the success of our health cooperation sets an example of South-South cooperation, which gives our developing countries more right to speak in global health governance.


What is your opinion of the health partnership between China and Africa?

I'd like to use the word "cooperation or collaboration" to describe our exchanges in the health sector rather than "development aid or assistance." Aid is always one-way, and it may bring with it a condescending attitude, while cooperation is based on mutual respect, considering needs and requirements of each other, without attaching any political conditions.

Some people may think that Chinese give and Africans receive in our health relations. But Africans, in fact, have taught us many things. For instance, Chinese medical workers in Africa have learned cultural differences and broadened their academic vision in the framework of global public health. In the past 50 years, around 1,000 Chinese medical workers have been sent to Africa every year, and thus they have brought much information about Africa and medical practice back to China.


What are your expectations of future young leader health roundtables?

We'd very much like to organize this Roundtable annually to provide an opportunity for those young talents to gather together, discuss, debate and build consensus. I think this year's meeting is a starting point, and we're willing to provide a broader youth exchange platform for them to grow as the backbone of China-Africa health cooperation.

We hope that more young African talents in the health sector can join our roundtable discussions next year, including Africans who study and work in China, and Africans who work in international organizations. We also hope to work with Chinese and African governments, international organizations, embassies, universities, research institutions, think tanks and NGOs to expand youth exchanges to strengthen China-Africa health cooperation in the future.


* Learn more about China Health Forum 2013 at

* To apply for next year's roundtable please contact:






Cover Story
-Africa on China's Dream
-A Path to Health
-Making Their Mark
-Strengthening China-Africa Health Collaboration inThis New Era
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