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Chinese President Xi Jinping said on Friday that China will continue to promote cooperation with African countries on health and development.
He was addressing the China-Africa Health Development forum in Beijing on Friday.
“Human development is at the core of development. We hope this forum will substantially push forward health cooperation between China and Africa,” Xi said.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of Chinese medical teams being sent to Africa
The China-Africa Health Cooperation Taskforce includes members of the Chinese government, WHO, UNAIDS, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
According to new research by Washington-based Center for Global Development and AidData, the largest number of Chinese aid projects in Africa is in the health sector, totaling 149 projects accounting for $676 million.
Representatives from 48 African countries and eight international organizations attended Friday’s forum, including Margaret Chan, director-general of World Health Organization, UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibe, and the UN Population Fund Executive Director Babatunde Osotimehin.
Comoros Vice President Fouad Mohadji said on Friday that China’s long-term support of health and poverty eradication initiatives on the continent has boosted Sino-African ties.
China also asserted that the country will help expand Africa’s access to medicine.
At Friday’s forum, UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé emphasized the enormous positive impact of stronger China-Africa cooperation for health.
“The response to HIV can act as a pathfinder for the China-Africa partnership in health development,” said Mr Sidibé.
According to UN figures over a million people die from AIDS-related causes every year in African countries.
“China can help African countries build on their leadership in the HIV response to advance Africa’s response to a range of other health issues,” said Sidibe.
Sidibé also stressed on China’s unique potential to support Africa to develop sustainable capacity for local manufacture of antiretroviral drugs and other pharmaceuticals.
China has faced a barrage of criticism from Western media and leaders about its growing presence in Africa.
US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton in 2011 had warned about China’s “neo-colonialism” in places like Africa. She had also said that US diplomats in Africa had been asked to scrutinize and assess Chinese projects in the countries to which they are assigned.
Meanwhile, the Chinese President said on Friday that Sino-African ties have “weathered the test of a changing international landscape and gained sincerity and trust”.
Xi said at the forum that 18,000 Chinese medical workers have been sent to Africa for health services catering to 250 million Africans.
“China will continue to explore new approaches to South-South cooperation in the area of health with developing countries in Africa and elsewhere,” said Li.
During his recent trip to Africa, Chinese President Xi Jinping reconfirmed China’s commitment to provide another $20 billion in financing to Africa.
TBP with inputs from Agencies