By Independent Reporter
Health Minister Ruhakana Rugunda has praised the relationship between Uganda and China and described it as “mutually beneficial”.
Dr Rugunda was one of a dozen African health ministers and Chinese health officials who on Aug.16 gathered in Beijing China for the Ministerial Forum on China-Africa Health Development.
The forum is to map out new efforts to support Africa’s long-term health progress and shape the future of China-Africa health cooperation.
Rugunda praised China for assisting in building capacity by training many Ugandans and Africans and availing them with industrial products, drugs and other commodities.
This is the first-ever meeting of health ministers under the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) since it was established in 2000, demonstrating the highest level of political commitment to tackle Africa’s most pressing health challenges together.
“We want to be able to establish effective, affordable, good-quality healthcare systems in our respective countries – systems that effectively respond to the specific health needs of the Africa people.”
At the Forum, health ministers and officials launched the Beijing Declaration of the Ministerial Forum on China-Africa Health Development, which sets a roadmap for jointly addressing key health challenges across Africa, including malaria, schistosomiasis, HIV/AIDS, reproductive health, immunization and vaccine-preventable diseases.
Under the Declaration, China and African countries will embark on new efforts to achieve sustainable, long-term health solutions, such as increasing partnerships on joint research and addressing the shortage of healthcare workers.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of China sending medical teams to African countries, with the first team sent to Algeria in 1963. Since then, thousands of medical personnel have served in 43 African countries to build health facilities, train health workers, offer treatments and other health technologies, and support academic institutions and private companies.
“I believe the Chinese Medical Teams will strive to make a greater contribution in the future,” said Dr Li Bin, China’s minister of the National Health and Family Planning Commission.
“China is now a significant force in Africa’s development, with substantially increased commitments and engagements. This is a south-to-south model of development cooperation based on mutual interests and respect,” said Dr Margaret Chan, Director-General of WHO.
The Ministerial Forum builds on important discussions in Botswana at the 4th International China-Africa Health Cooperation Roundtable, which took place for the first time in Africa in May 2013.
The Forum is held under the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), and is hosted by the National Health and Family Planning Commission of China, formerly the Ministry of Health.