China joins hands with Africa to combat COVID-19

By Lyu Qiang, People’s Daily
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues spreading in Africa, China is paying close attention to the continent, actively offering materials to the African Union (AU) and African countries, and organizing video conferences for exchanges of experiences between Chinese and African health experts.
Besides, Chinese enterprises and non-governmental organizations are also lending a hand to African countries.
China and African countries convened the first video conference over COVID-19 control in mid-March. Nearly 300 officials and experts from 24 African countries, the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as WHO representatives stationed in African countries attended the conference.
During the meeting, Chinese experts had a thorough introduction of the disease, from how to curb the spread to accelerating vaccine research, from border control to community management, and from clinical treatment to personal protection, answering every detailed question raised by their African counterparts.
Ethiopian Minister of Health Lia Tadesse gave a high remark on the conference, saying Chinese experts shared detailed and reliable information about the pandemic and control measures, offering targeted and constructive suggestions for African countries, and that’s what Ethiopia needs.
Lately, Chinese embassies and consulates in Africa also shared information and measures of epidemic prevention and control with respective countries of residence. On April 3, Chinese Embassy in South Africa convened a video conference for Chinese and South African experts, during which the Chinese side shared China’s experiences in virus testing, prevention strategies and clinical treatment.
Head of South African National Department of Health Zwelini Mkhize expressed his gratitude toward China’s timely assistance, saying China’s effective prevention measures have set an example for other countries. The health minister said his country is willing to learn from Chinese experiences.
On April 6, the materials donated by China to 18 African countries arrived in Ghana, including breathing machines, N95 respirators, protective suits, gloves and other medical and protective equipment. So far, China has offered technical and material emergency aid to nearly 30 African countries and the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, such as test kits and case management manuals, so as to help them improve diagnosis and treatment efficiency.
Jack Ma Foundation and Alibaba Foundation donated masks, protective suits and test kits to 54 countries in Africa, and these materials had been distributed. Besides, the two foundations have also conducted cooperation with African medical institutions to offer online training for COVID-19 clinical treatment.
Chinese tech firm Huawei supports South Africa to fight the pandemic with its 5G technology, and Chinese innovative information technology provider Neusoft also offered Kenya with an AI-powered diagnosis system that enables Chinese experts to conduct remote diagnosis for local patients.
The AU said in a statement that the materials from China will largely enhance Africa’s capability to cope with the pandemic.
The Wilkins Hospital in Zimbabwe designated to deal with the novel coronavirus has completed refurbishment and upgrading with the funding from Chinese enterprises. The constructors worked around the clock and capped the project in just over 10 days, substantially improving local hospital infrastructure and medical conditions. The hospital now sees obviously enhanced handling capacity of patients.
Chinese speed is impressive, said Zimbabwean Health Minister Obadiah Moyo, adding that Africa is now learning from China’s effective measures, such as the hospitals in Wuhan built in days.
China’s active efforts to assist other countries to better cope with the pandemic will firm up confidence and offer support to them, and make important contribution to an early victory over the disease, Moyo said.
The Chinese government aided a bio-safety lab to Sierra Leone in 2014 when Ebola broke out. Now, the laboratory is offering training on COVID-19 test for the country and helping Sierra Leoneestablish a prevention and control mechanism of infectious diseases, as well as a public health system.
The Sierra Leone-China Friendship Hospital where the 21st batch of the Chinese medical team is based is now a designated hospital for receiving COVID-19 patients. Recently, the Chinese medical team carried out training for local medical workers and prepared quarantine wards to enhance epidemic control capability of the hospital. Secretary General of All People’s Congress of Sierra Leone Osman Foday Yansaneh said China has offered active and timely assistance for his country, hoping the two countries can maintain close cooperation and jointly fight the virus.
The Chinese medical team in Ethiopia recently assisted the country to test the PCR equipment, making Ethiopia the second country in Africa following South Africa that is able to test coronavirus cases with nucleic acid method. Tadesse said that China’s concrete assistance demonstrated the high importance attached by China on its friendship with Africa, as well as its responsibility to share weal and woe with the world.

ceremony is held for the first batch of donations from the Chinese Embassy in Tanzania to the Tanzanian government at Tanzania’s National Institute for Medical Research, April 8. Ambassador Wang Ke (L), on behalf of the embassy and two Chinese enterprises in the country, donated a batch of medical masks, protective suits, and infrared thermometers to Tanzania. The materials were received by Ummy Ali Mwalimu, Minister of Health, Community Development, Gender, the Elderly and Children of Tanzania. Photo courtesy of the Chinese Embassy in Tanzania

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