NAIROBI, July 18 (Xinhua) — The past few months have witnessed an ever-growing brotherhood and solidarity between China and Africa, which are joining hands in tackling the still-unfolding COVID-19 pandemic.
When the first case was confirmed on the African continent on Feb. 14, China, despite being ravaged by the virus then, rushed forward to help its African brothers by unreservedly providing medical supplies, sharing experience, as well as sending expert teams.
So far, Africa’s anti-epidemic efforts have achieved gratifying results despite the growing number of confirmed cases, maintaining a mortality rate far below the global average, according to the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC).
Members of a Chinese medical team pose for a photo upon their arrival at the airport in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, April 16, 2020. (Xinhua/Wang Shoubao)
SUCCESSIVE MISSIONS WIN ACCLAIM
On April 16, a 12-member team of health experts from the Chinese city of Tianjin arrived in Burkina Faso.
Visiting the Tengandogo University Hospital in Burkina Faso’s capital Ouagadougou twice, the Chinese experts shared their experience in fighting the virus with their local counterparts, who are caring for an increasing number of COVID-19 patients.
Alexandre Sanfo, director-general of the hospital, told Xinhua that the experience shared by the Chinese experts boosted the country’s COVID-19 prevention and control work, as well as its response system.
A Chinese medical expert is welcomed by locals upon her arrival in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, April 16, 2020. (Xinhua)
According to the Chinese Embassy in Burkina Faso, the team made a total of four field visits, and held eight training workshops, 14 interdisciplinary meetings, and 40 technical sessions during their stay in the West African country.
After the heavy workload in Burkina Faso, the team went to Abidjan, the capital city of Cote d’Ivoire, on a similar mission at the invitation of the Cote d’Ivoire government.
As of June 2, China has sent a total of 148 medical workers to 11 African countries, according to Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian.
Furthermore, 46 Chinese medical teams already stationed on site are also mobilized to help African nations contain the pandemic.
The Chinese medical workers are shuttling back and forth on the continent to race against the virus, which has won admiration from local medical staff and officials.
“It is a great show of solidarity,” said 57-year-old Legesse Alemu, a medical doctor at a public health facility in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa.
Staff members unload the medical supplies from China at the airport in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, March 22, 2020. (Xinhua/Wang Shoubao)
“They brought with them highly needed know-how and first-hand experience, without which we would not be able to effectively respond to the virus,” said Alemu.
Grateful to the Chinese experts, Burkina Faso’s Minister of Health Claudine Lougue said their help will allow the country to minimize the risk of the COVID-19 spread.
“The mission was fruitful and the Chinese experts made relevant recommendations which we will contextualize according to our realities,” said the health minister.
Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa wrote to the leader of the visiting Chinese medical team a letter, which read, “I write to express to you, and your colleagues, my deep personal gratitude, and that of my government and the people of Zimbabwe, for your unwavering support by sharing the expertise garnered from China’s victorious battle against the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Members of a Chinese medical team visit Mvurwi Hospital in Mvurwi, Zimbabwe, May 19, 2020. (Xinhua/Zhang Yuliang)
CHINESE DONATIONS PROVIDE TIMELY HELP
Since March, massive medical supplies donated by the Chinese government, companies and individuals have been distributed to over 50 African countries and regions.
The timely donations, including face masks, disposable protective clothing, forehead thermometers as well as other equipment, have helped alleviate the continent’s shortage of medical supplies in the face of the epidemic.
The latest donation was made on July 14, when the All-China Federation of Trade Unions (ACFTU) donated a consignment of medical supplies, including 20,000 masks and 1,000 bottles of hand sanitizers, to African labor unions to help curb the spread of the novel coronavirus among African workers.
Staff unload donations from Jack Ma Foundation and Alibaba Foundation at the Blaise Diagne International Airport in Dakar, Senegal, March 28, 2020. (Photo by Eddy Peters/Xinhua)
ACFTU’s donation to the Organization of African Trade Union Unity also included office equipment, such as printers and laptops, to support the work of the union across the continent.
On June 30, the Communist Party of China (CPC) donated various medical supplies to Zambia’s governing party, the Patriotic Front (PF), as part of the efforts to help the country deal with the pandemic.
The materials were donated to the PF by the Chinese Embassy in Zambia on behalf of the CPC International Department. The donated items included 30,000 surgical face masks, 500 protective clothing and 240 thermometers.
Meanwhile, Chinese companies and individuals are also making their own contributions.
Jack Ma, Chinese tech entrepreneur and philanthropist, has donated three batches of medical supplies to 54 African countries via the Jack Ma and Alibaba foundations.
A worker transfers boxes of medical supplies provided by Chinese government at Khartoum International Airport in Khartoum, Sudan, June 18, 2020. (Xinhua/Ma Yichong)
Following Ma’s announcement of donating the third batch of medical supplies, African Union (AU) Commission Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat said “I thanked Jack Ma for the donations of supplies to the AU Commission. This includes 4.6 million masks, 500,000 test kits, 200,000 personal protective equipment, as well as 300 ventilators.”
The chairperson of the 55-member pan African bloc also stressed that “these vital supplies will enhance the Africa CDC’s strategic stockpile to assist member states in the COVID-19 fight.”
The joint efforts to combat COVID-19 illustrate the enduring relationship between China and Africa.
Since 1963, more than 22,000 Chinese health professionals have been sent to Africa to support local programs, which benefited about 220 million patients, according to Chinese Ambassador to Togo Chao Weidong.
The outbreak has boosted bilateral collaboration in the health sector between China and Africa, which will certainly enhance their shared vision of win-win cooperation.
Djiboutian Prime Minister Abdoulkader Kamil Mohamed (C) awards the Independent Day Medals to members of the Chinese medical team in Djibouti, capital of Djibouti, May 10, 2020. (Chinese Embassy in Djibouti/Handout via Xinhua)
When chairing the Extraordinary China-Africa Summit on Solidarity against COVID-19 in June, Chinese President Xi Jinping said the two sides should work together to build a China-Africa community of health for all and take their comprehensive strategic and cooperative partnership to greater heights.
Noting that China and Africa have withstood the immense challenge of COVID-19, Xi said the two sides must mobilize necessary resources, collaborate to protect people’s lives and health, and minimize the fallout from COVID-19.
Xi called on both sides to stay committed to fighting COVID-19 together, saying that China will continue to do whatever it can to support Africa’s response.
The Chinese president’s remarks were echoed by African leaders, who agree that solidarity and cooperation between China and Africa are the key to ultimately defeating COVID-19.
Chinese medical team members visit the Pasteur Institute in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, May 5, 2020. (Photo by Liang Liang/Xinhua)
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said at the meeting that the summit “demonstrates the depth and resilience of solidarity between China and Africa.”
“Sino-African solidarity and better multilateral cooperation is key to winning the battle against this pandemic,” he said, calling on both sides to continue to strengthen the bonds of solidarity and take collective action to secure the future of humanity.
Rwandan President Paul Kagame said that joint success in combatting COVID-19 was the result of years of bolstering ties under the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, whose 20th anniversary will be marked later this year.
“The strength of the bond between Africa and China is clear,” Kagame said.