“In 2014, the Ebola epidemic ravaged Sierra Leone, Guinea, Liberia and other West African countries, which severely threatened people’s life and caused huge losses to local economic and social development. At that critical moment, the international community showed solidarity and extended a helping hand to West Africa. Together, we won the hard battle against Ebola.
To avoid the tragedy from recurring, the international community must draw lessons from our experience and comprehensively re-evaluate that crisis from a historical and development perspective. It is therefore imperative to hold this meeting. Based on China’s participation in the combat and the recovery, I would like to share the following observations:
Firstly, we need to foster a community with a shared future for mankind, and continue to support the recovery of West Africa. Global challenges such as the outbreak of infectious diseases call for global response. No country can stay immune. All parties must uphold multilateralism, support the UN’s role as the central coordinator, and strengthen solidarity and collaboration. In our case, we need to continue our support for the recovery of the affected West African countries, fully mobilize civil societies and local communities, and help build resilience and the capacity to generate their own blood.
Secondly, we need to apply systems thinking and take a holistic approach. We should make overall plans by taking into consideration prevention, treatment, recovery and all other aspects, and assist West African countries in building a full-fledged medical and healthcare system as well as a system for infectious diseases prevention and control. While increasing investment in the “hardware” such as hospital facilities and laboratories, we also need to upgrade the “software” by raising prevention awareness, improving contingency mechanisms and offering psychological counseling.
Thirdly, we need to cement the foundation for recovery by supporting Africa’s development. Economic and social development is the foundation and guarantee of recovery. The international community should help African countries implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the African Union Agenda 2063 by eradicating poverty, promoting education, public health and employment, as well as enhancing infrastructure and interconnectivity, so as to make sure that African countries are capable of dealing with various challenges rapidly and effectively.
China and Africa are good brothers, good friends and good partners who have supported each other in trying times. Since 1963, China has sent over 20 thousand medical workers who have provided services to 280 million people in 51 African countries. During the Ebola outbreak, China sent nearly 1,200 medical workers to fight side by side with West African people in the Ebola-afflicted areas, and provided nearly 900 million RMB in emergency cash and material aid, in addition to a bio-safety level-3 mobile laboratory for Sierra Leone. In the post-Ebola era, China has trained nearly 100 African public health officials and professionals, and has been helping Africa improve its public health system including Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. China is also assisting Sierra Leone in building a West Africa Tropical Diseases Prevention and Research Center, and actively supporting West African countries in their post-Ebola economic and social recovery.
At the end of 2015 when Chinese President Xi Jinping attended the Johannesburg Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, he announced the “ten cooperation plans” between China and Africa, which entails practical cooperation in areas such as poverty reduction, people’s well-being, public health and infrastructure. China has provided 60 billion US Dollars of funding support in this regard. Later this year, as we will host the Beijing Summit of the Forum, China and Africa will discuss future plans of cooperation and friendship draw a blueprint for our cooperation in the new era, and strive for win-win cooperation and common development at a higher level.”