China vows to make greater contribution to global health governance

Source:Xinhua Published: 2018/5/28 18:13:39

Rwandan President Paul Kagame (L) and World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus attends the opening day of the World Health Assembly, an annual meeting of health representatives to discuss a range of global health issues, on May 21, in Geneva. Photo: VCG

China is willing to cooperate with other countries to do justice to the health of its population and provide better health care services, Ma Xiaowei, Minister of China's National Health Commission, told the 71st World Health Assembly (WHA),which concluded on Saturday.

China has attached great importance to cooperation with the World Health Organization (WHO) to participate in global health governance and use Chinese wisdom to bring health care to everyone.

Healthy China 2030

In the 1960s, when the Chinese public, especially farmers, lacked basic medical service, barefoot doctors came to the help of the teeming millions.

This inspired the 1978 WHO conference in Kazakhstan to call on local communities to help decide healthcare priorities, emphasize primary and preventive health care, and seek to link medicine with trade, economics and other political and social areas.

Margaret Chan Fung Fu-chun, former director-general of the WHO, said China's experience in combating challenges is more useful for middle- and low-income countries than those of high-income nations.

China has made tremendous achievements in the health sector, improving the health of one-fifth of the world's population since the adoption of reform and opening-up in 1978.

Over 95 percent of the Chinese population now enjoys basic health cover. Average life expectancy has grown from 35 years in the 1940s to 76.5 years in 2016, and the infant mortality rate declined to 0.75 percent.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said he is impressed by the large scale, fast-paced and quality of China's health care reforms.

Ma said that by focusing on sustainable development goals, China has upscaled its Healthy China initiative to a national strategy and released the Healthy China 2030 Outline for national health progress.

Tedros said China has played a leading role in national health coverage, and the Healthy China 2030 Outline has demonstrated the government's determination to safeguard citizens' health.

Foreign health assistance

"We have more than 200 million cases of malaria a year and more than 90 percent of them are in Africa, so the focus on the continent is important," said Tedros, an Ethiopian who specialized in malaria before taking the helm of the WHO last year.

"China has launched joint projects with research institutes in Africa where it is adapting its practices for the prevention and control of malaria and schistosomiasis," Ma said, explaining that China is also a pioneer of global emergency response.

The African nation of Comoros presents an excellent example in malaria control, courtesy China. It began in 2007 when a team of Chinese scientists introduced an anti-malaria project on the island of Moheli before extending it to Anjouan in 2012 and Grande Comore in 2013. It led to a 98-percent drop in malaria cases - from over 100,000 to 1,300 a year - on the three islands, said Chinese Ambassador to Comoros He Yanjun.

Over the years, China has continuously provided health assistance to other developing countries. Since 1963, China sent medical teams to 69 developing countries, according to the official.

"China is playing a major leadership role in the global health agenda. It is a strong, economically powerful country with a vision to contribute to the fight against malaria and generally in the improvement of health beyond its own borders," said WHO Global Malaria Program Director Pedro Alonso.

"So we welcome the involvement of China in a leadership position, building out of its own experience, but putting also at the service of mankind, its talent, its capacity, its own products," he added.

From peace ark to health silk road

In 2017, the Chinese hospital ship Peace Ark sailed about 30,000 nautical miles (about 56,000 kilometers) along the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road for 155 days to provide medical services along the route.

From 2010 to 2015, the Peace Ark visited Asia, Africa, the Americas and Oceania. Around 120,000 people from 29 countries and regions received free onboard medical and humanitarian services.
Newspaper headline: Healthcare powerhouse


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