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China approach on anti-Covid-19 pandemic fight prudent

By Stephen Ndegwa
Thursday, May 21st, 2020
A laboratory technologist Regan Ouma performs a swab test on a patient to test for the coronavirus yesterday at Nairobi West Hospital. The hospital is charging Sh9,000 per test. Photo/PD/JOHN OCHIENG

Obviously, there was only one major topic during the 73rd World Health Assembly held virtually on May 18—how the global community needs to combat the Covid-19 pandemic through solidarity and cooperation.

For understandable reasons, China has become the moral leader and lighthouse in the search for a solution to the virus.

That is why the world listened keenly as President Xi Jinping called on the leadership of the World Health Organisation to strengthen global public health governance, enhancing support for African countries, and concerted global efforts to accelerate economic recovery.

 In his statement, Xi noted that the pandemic has hit over 210 countries and regions, affected more than seven billion people, and claimed over 300,000 lives. Indeed, the virus does not discriminate against race or religion.

After making painstaking efforts and enormous sacrifice, China has turned the tide on the virus, and protected lives.

Since the first case was reported in the country, China has acted with transparency and responsibility, providing pertinent information, like the genome sequence, in a timely manner. 

Looking at the urgency of the moment, Xi urged WHO member countries to deploy medical expertise and critical supplies to places where they are needed the most.

Further, he stressed that countries need to take strong steps in key areas as prevention, quarantine, detection, treatment and tracing.

But China envisages a situation where WHO takes leadership of the global response, with Xi calling on the international community to increase political and financial support for WHO so as to mobilise resources to defeat the virus.

Africa is on the spot due to its weak public health systems. Therefore, the world needs to build the capacity of the continent in the Covid-19 response by providing more material, technological and personnel support.

China has set the pace by sending a tremendous amount of medical supplies and assistance to over 50 African countries. 

Five Chinese medical expert teams have also been sent to the African continent.

In total, in the past seven decades, over 200 million people in Africa have received care and treatment from Chinese medical teams.

At present, 46 resident Chinese medical teams are in Africa helping with Covid-19 containment efforts locally.

China has promised to establish a cooperation mechanism for its hospitals to pair up with 30 African hospitals, and accelerate the building of the Africa Centres for Disease Control headquarters in Nairobi to help the continent ramp up its disease preparedness and control capacity.

One of the greatest news is that Covid-19 vaccine development and deployment in China, when available, will be made a global public good.

This will be China’s contribution to ensuring vaccine accessibility and affordability in developing countries. 

China will work with other G20 members to implement the Debt Service Suspension Initiative for the poorest countries.

China is also ready to work with the international community to bolster support for the hardest-hit countries under the greatest strain of debt service, so that they could tide over the current difficulties.

Of importance is also restoring economic and social development. While working on an ongoing basis to contain the virus, countries where conditions permit may reopen businesses and schools in an orderly fashion, in observance of WHO’s professional recommendations.

Meanwhile, China is working with the UN to establish a global humanitarian response depot and hub in China.

Mankind is a community with a shared future. Solidarity and cooperation is key, a lesson the world has learned from fighting HIV/AIDS, Ebola, avian influenza, H1N1 and other major epidemics.

As Xi said, only solidarity and cooperation can defeat the novel coronavirus.  — The writer is a communication expert, and public policy analyst —[email protected]

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