China, Africa discuss health challenges in Africa

BY: Enoch Darfah Frimpong

The fourth International Roundtable on China-Africa Health Cooperation has opened in Gaborone, the capital of Botswana.

It will explore new partnerships to address some of the most pressing health challenges facing Africa and strengthen an innovative health partnership based on south-south cooperation.

The focus of the roundtable, the first to take place on the African continent, is on promoting sustainable health solutions that meet the needs and priorities of African countries and draw on China’s unique expertise.

The roundtable series, organised by the Institute for Global Health and the China Institute of International Studies, began in 2009 as part of a China-led initiative to evaluate and improve its foreign assistance

This year’s roundtable is hosted by the Botswana Ministry of Health, the China Chamber of Commerce of the Ministry of Commerce and the Institute for Global Health of Peking University.

Chinese and African leaders attending the meeting will engage in two days of sessions aimed at determining how China and African countries can jointly tackle critical issues such as AIDS, malaria, schistosomiasis, reproductive health, access to lifesaving vaccines and non-communicable diseases.

A statement issued by the Global Health Strategies Initiatives said ‘these health issues disproportionately affect African countries and have also been major health challenges for China’.

Health Ministers from Ghana and Botswana  have joined China’s Director General of the National Health and Family Planning Commission; leaders from the African Union; representatives from the United Nations and non-governmental organisations; and entrepreneurs and business owners from China and Africa for the roundtable.

The statement said the roundtable comes as China and Africa mark the 50th anniversary of providing medical teams to Africa, with China also supporting African health personnel, infrastructure, malaria control and other programmes such as scholarships for training health experts.

At this year’s roundtable, officials will discuss how to shape health cooperation between China and Africa and help achieve long-term, sustainable gains, such as strengthening health systems and addressing the shortage of healthcare workers, it added.

“Africa’s future is closely linked with our own and improving health is a critical building block towards a common prosperity,” said Dr Ren Minghui, Director General of the Department of International Cooperation at China’s National Health and Family Planning Commission. “African countries have made tremendous gains to improve the health of their citizens. With China and

Africa working hand-in-hand on health, we can have even greater impact.” 

According to the statement, a major theme of the roundtable is how African and Chinese officials can create win-win scenarios that will benefit all partners and how African countries can best work with Chinese scientists and pharmaceutical manufacturers to increase access to high-quality, low-cost health technologies, while ensuring products are safe and meet international quality standards.

They would further explore how China can help support Africa’s local production of health products.

One aim of the roundtable is to develop joint recommendations that could lay the groundwork for a long-term strategic plan for China-Africa health cooperation, which could be considered at the Ministerial Forum of China-Africa Health Development, part of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), which will take place in August in Beijing.