Interview: WHO chief looks forward to China's "particular vision" for global health cooperation

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World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Chan made the remarks in a written interview ahead of her meeting with Xi scheduled for Wednesday at WHO's headquarters in Geneva.

Chan said that Xi's drive to make health an explicit national priority is also reflected in China's economic development schemes, including the Belt and Road Initiative envisioned as an infrastructure and trade network connecting Asia with Europe and Africa along ancient trade routes.

In addition to committing 120 million U.S. dollars to Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia, China sent 1,200 workers to affected regions and trained 13,000 medical staff to treat Ebola patients in nine African countries.

The WHO chief also commended the decision made by the government to emphasize that "health is a precondition for economic and social development in their Healthy China 20200 vision."

The benefits of this drive have been especially tangible within China, where officials have set in motion far-reaching and widespread reforms to improve access to health care for millions of its citizens.

Underpinned by universal health insurance coverage, fiscal subsidies, expanding benefits and an increase in the size and skill level of the health workforce, reforms have also meant that infrastructure and equipment at all levels have been expanded and upgraded, she said.

The "Healthy China 20200" blueprint released in October includes 29 chapters that cover areas such as public health services, environment management, the medical industry, and food and drug safety.

"China has made remarkable investments in R&D (research and development) and innovation to solve many enduring health challenges," she said, adding that China is in the process of becoming a powerhouse in terms of both the discovery and production of new drugs and vaccines.

China's leadership and initiative were perhaps most visible during the deadly Ebola epidemic which struck three West African countries in 2014, resulting in the deaths of over 11,000 individuals, the WHO chief said.

Besides, over the years, China has made important headway in implementing globally recognized strategies which aim to limit as much as possible the impact of future health emergencies.

GENEVA, Jan. 18 (Xinhua) -- WHO chief Margaret Chan on Tuesday praised Chinese President Xi Jinping as a "visionary and strategic leader", saying that she looks forward to talking with him about how China will bring its particular vision for health as a centerpiece for international cooperation.

"China was the first international donor to provide hands-on clinical support, working in dangerous conditions and returning with no infections," Chan added.

"China's challenges and experience in overcoming them can be very relevant, and more relevant than experiences from upper income countries which have a very different social and economic situation," she said.

Made up of groups of health professionals, EMTs are crucial in providing support to national health systems by delivering clinical care to populations affected by natural disasters and disease outbreaks.

This forward-thinking strategy is seen in the establishment of 37 national Emergency Medical Teams (EMTs), with plans to upgrade a number of them into global EMTs and Public Health Rapid Response Teams.

"China's health care reforms are a world-leading example of a government trying to achieve universal health care," Chan said.

According to Chan, China not only draws from its experience as a middle income country but also from how it tackled the Ebola outbreak and national pandemics such as SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome), avian influenza and MERS (Middle-East respiratory syndrome).

Meanwhile, the official highlighted China's pivotal role on the international scene.



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