China: Africa’s hope for HIV drugs

Gaborone ‑ China is ready to share its health development experiences with Africa as well as support the continent’s health initiatives by working with African governments, private institutions and other organisations.
China is on course to topple the United States as world superpower and has vowed to work with Africa to promote China-Africa health co-operation to make it the highlight and priority of the overall China-Africa co-operation.
This would be done through medical research and tertiary institutions, as well civil society from China focusing on Africa.
The latest development was revealed at the 4th International Roundtable on China-Africa Health Co-operation meeting of leaders from China and Africa in Gaborone, Botswana, this past week. The meeting aimed to strengthen collaboration in health development and share knowledge and technology.
The exchange was analysed in detail during an HIV session, chaired by UNAIDS, which incorporated an update on the ground-breaking African Union roadmap on shared responsibility and global solidarity for AIDS, TB and malaria.
Opportunities for strengthened China-Africa HIV partnership were explored, such as developing antiretroviral therapy drug manufacturing technology through joint ventures and technical support for local production.
South-South co-operation, where mutually beneficial partnerships between developing and emerging economies are adding new thinking and new resources to global health and development was a keynote of the roundtable.
Such co-operation, creating a ‘win-win’ scenario, is based on shared experience of similar challenges and priorities ‑ both Africa and China view healthcare as critical to their economic success.
“The global health landscape is changing with more partners than ever joining these efforts,” said UNAIDS deputy executive director Dr Luiz Loures.
“The AIDS response and other experiences paved the way for transformative progress on health and can help China and Africa to engage on a whole new level and innovate on a broad range of health issues.”
Dr Ren Minghui, Director General of the Department of International Co-operation at China’s National Health and Family Planning Commission, said Africa’s future is closely linked with China and improving health is a critical building block towards common prosperity.
“African countries have made tremendous gains to improve the health of their citizens.
“With China and Africa working hand-in-hand on health, we can have even greater impact,” said Minghui.
The forum examined ways in which China can share its advances in research and development, its commitment to producing high-quality, low cost, safe health technologies and how it can forge new partnerships with African countries.
In return, China can learn from the continent’s best practices, including progress made in expanding AIDS treatment, responding to the epidemic in rural areas and stopping new HIV infections among children.
Minghui said they would actively explore co-ordinated efforts with World Health Organisation (WHO), UNAIDS and other international organisations, as well as support new measures and initiatives for Africa’s health development.
The promotion of China-Africa health co-operation, he said, was in common aspiration and interests of people of China and Africa, and was in line with the development trend.
He stated that China’s development could not be separated from that of the world and Africa, noting that stability of Africa also required the support of China.
Africa and China are bound to achieve greater strides in the health sector through dialogue and identifying opportunities for strengthened future co-operation.
“China and Africa have a long history of collaborating on health, built on shared challenges and experiences addressing similar issues,” said Dr John Seakgosing, Botswana Minister of Health.
He said China has a unique role in supporting African health progress. “With this roundtable, we look forward to deepening our partnership to benefit the health of our citizens.” He said Africa continued to note with satisfaction the commitment displayed by the Chinese government in intensifying support for development in Africa.
Seakgosing applauded the initiative taken by pharmaceutical companies to engage each other and create opportunities that would pave the way for future collaboration as well as assist in building strategic partnerships for the benefit of both countries and their people.
In addition, the roundtable discussed pilot project proposals for collaboration in areas such as strengthening laboratory systems; training African health personnel and sharing China’s expertise in cold chain management and surveillance systems to boost immunizations. It is hoped that the roundtable policy consultations will help to lay the groundwork for a long-term strategic collaboration plan around the upcoming Health Ministerial Meeting of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation in August 2013.
Participants committed to develop concrete action plans to address pressing health issues including HIV, malaria, reproductive health, human resources and access to vaccines and commodities. The forum provided an opportunity for open dialogue about lessons learned as well as exploring South-South cooperation initiatives to overcome challenges such as guaranteeing safe products, ensuring adequate capacity, increasing transparency and strengthening health systems.
The AIDS response and other experiences paved the way for transformative progress on health and can help China and Africa to engage on a whole new level and innovate on a broad range of health issues.
South-South co-operation, where mutually beneficial partnerships between developing and emerging economies are adding new thinking and new resources to global health and development was a keynote of the roundtable.
Such co-operation, creating a ‘win-win’ scenario, is based on shared experience of similar challenges and priorities: both Africa and China view healthcare as critical to their economic success.

May 2013
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