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China, Africa and global health

Updated: 2013-08-16 08:52
By Michel Sidibe ( China Daily)

China can establish a strategic partnership with the African Union and the New Partnership for Africa's Development to support the implementation of the Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Plan for Africa. By entering a new partnership with leading pharmaceutical companies and African leaders, China can promote the development of the African pharmaceutical industry based on entrepreneurship, competitiveness and production of affordable, quality medicines, including traditional medicines, in which China has unique expertise.

China's advanced research and development industry can help Africa develop the next generation of radically simplified tools and instruments for low-cost laboratory diagnostics and medical equipment. China has become a global leader in simple-value ultrasound systems, and it can work in partnership with Africa to develop low-cost, easy-to-use equipment and tests for communicable and non-communicable diseases. Breakthroughs in this area would not only help Africa meet its own growing needs for laboratory diagnostics and medical equipment, but also establish a China-Africa platform for medical research and development that could generate low-cost, easy-to-use health solutions for the world.

African countries' healthcare systems can learn effectively from China's experience of barefoot doctors as they increasingly embrace task-shifting as a key strategy to increase universal coverage of healthcare by training 1 million community health workers.

China has built thousands of hospitals, trained millions of medical personnel, improved healthcare systems and reduced mortality from AIDS and other diseases. As a result, the maternal and child mortality rates in China have fallen and life expectancy continues to rise. Such a scale-up and capacity building have to be replicated in Africa.

The Ministerial Forum on China-Africa Health Development this week has provided us with an excellent opportunity to discuss these issues and forge a path together. As an African proverb goes: "If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together." If we truly want to succeed together in the long run, going forward together is indeed the only choice.

The author is executive director of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS.

(China Daily 08/16/2013 page9)

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