South African Health Minister, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi, has issued a statement saying it is imperative for Africa and China to prioritize the implementation of commitments in the Health Cooperation pact, made during the second Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) Health Ministerial Meeting in 2015.

Speaking on Monday, 24th April, during the China-Africa Health Ministers Conference in Pretoria, Minister Motsoaledi said Africa must, in partnership with China, come up with practical solutions to implement the health commitments. He said the continent must decide how to finance its own development, using its own resources.

“We have to put this partnership towards self-propelled, sustainable and irreversible progress. Destiny has brought us to this crossroad where we as Africans can no longer afford the time for missed opportunities and luxury of multiple choices.

“We must move only in one direction, and that is upwards. We must do so with the resolute determination to succeed. We should not, however, be lured into laxity and a false sense of comfort. We are still far from reaching the commanding heights.

“Our continent is still blighted by conflicts, poverty is still widespread, there is disease and our youth remain unemployed,” said Minister Motsoaledi.

Minister Motsoaledi urged conference delegates to fast track the implementation of flagship projects (under the Health Cooperation). He said these projects include the production of generic drugs for HIV/Aids, tuberculosis and malaria; strengthening African Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (ACDC) and the five regional collaborating centres, and getting off the ground a dedicated China-Africa Human Resources for Health Programme to address Africa’s human capital challenges.

Minister Motsoaledi said, “We must be conscious of the responsibility that accompanies this and work to ensure that the greatest outcomes for public health are pursued with vigour and clear-headed resolve.

“Together we have the opportunity to hardwire altruism into the global system and make people’s health central to international affairs.”

Relations between the People’s Republic of China and Africa are underpinned by similar values and principles, informed by the commitment to a partnership that will advance both regions’ development priorities.

Minister Motsoaledi said Africa and China share a common view that multilateralism and rules-based global health governance mechanism are the best guarantors of stability and prosperity for all.

Mutual commitment to improved health care

Chinese Health and Family Planning Commission Minister Li Bin said Africa and China have always had common aspirations.

She said China dispatched about 20 000 medical workers to Africa during the fight against the Ebola outbreak, and that China has helped Africa to improve infrastructure at a number of hospitals.

Minister Li said government shares the responsibility to promote good health for all, and that both nations must work hard to contribute to global health programmes.

She commended the African Union’s Agenda 2063 for placing health at the top of its priority list.

“China will in 2017 provide Africa with more than 50 training opportunities in health care work,” said Minister Li.

Ministers Motsoaledi and Li said their discussion focused on public health prevention and control systems, capacity building in Africa, and maternal and child health.

Collaboration between China and African countries in the pharmaceutical industry, accessibility of medicines, China-Africa pharmaceutical industrial parks and anti-malarial drugs were also part of talks.

Health benefits for the people

About eight agreements were signed between African countries and China, the terms of which differ from country to country, including China building hospitals in some countries.

“Others are about partnerships in human resources. In our country, Chinese Vice Premier Liu Yandong and Minister Li will visit Steve Biko Hospital to donate various imaging equipment, which are more advanced than ordinary X-ray equipment,” said Minister Motsoaledi.

Minister Li said China and Africa have agreed to improve the accessibility of health services and that investment will be made in youth and health personnel in the two nations. She also added that accessibility to medicines and medical devices will be improved in Africa.

“We are more than ready to join hands with you to improve the accessibility of health services so that together we can improve the health of the Chinese and African people,” said Minister Li.