Chinese and African health leaders have called for a strengthened partnership to discuss opportunities for universal health care and access to essential medicines.At an international roundtable meeting, held in Beijing this week, Chinese leaders said they had a ‘unique role to play in supporting Africa’s health progress’ because of China’s advances in research and development and its manufacture of low-cost medicines and vaccines.
More than 350 health leaders from China and Africa, including government officials, academics and representatives from the private sector and international organisations, attended the meeting.
The Contributing to universal health coverage, expanding access to essential medicines roundtable, called for deepened talks between Chinese, African and international stakeholders, increased investments in health, and alignment with African regional and national strategies. It also identified a need for improved government accountability through better monitoring and evaluation.
‘China and Africa have a long history of health cooperation going back more than 50 years. Our partnership with Africa is focused on mutually beneficial collaboration that meets the needs of African countries while also contributing to China’s health and development,’ Ren Minghui, director general of the Department of International Cooperation at China’s National Health and Family Planning Commission (NHFPC), said.
‘China has a unique role to play in supporting Africa’s health progress, thanks to our advances in R&D and production of high-quality, low-cost medicines and vaccines. These lifesaving innovations have tremendous opportunity to make a positive impact in the developing world.’
The roundtable came as China tries to develop its strategy for developing countries for the next 5-10 years.
Participants also discussed other issues, such as the need to increase access to health commodities, including through public-private joint ventures and technology transfer agreements.
A special session was also held on immunisation, where the Ebola outbreak provided context for conversations on health systems and building African health capacity. China provided $120m in Ebola aid and deployed nearly 1,000 medical workers to affected areas.
Mark Suzman, president of global policy, advocacy, and country programmes for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, said: ‘China has the experience and capacity to be a key partner in African efforts to expand health access and provide life-saving medicines and vaccines to those in need.
‘We’re excited to be working closely with China and African countries to identify and invest in health and development solutions that have the potential to improve the lives of millions of people. The roundtable is an important part of our ongoing efforts to identify shared priorities for collaboration, ensuring that all partners’ needs and capacities are reflected in future policies.’
Published:27 March 2015. By Judith Ugwumadu
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