BEIJING, May 27 (Xinhua) -- China is willing to cooperate with other countries to reduce health injustice and achieve better health services for everyone, Ma Xiaowei, minister of China's National Health Commission, has told the just-concluded 71st World Health Assembly (WHA).
China has attached great importance to cooperation with the World Health Organization (WHO) to take an active part in global health governance and contribute Chinese wisdom so that everyone has access to healthcare.
FROM BAREFOOT DOCTORS TO HEALTHY CHINA 2030
In the 1960s, when the general public in China, especially farmers, lacked basic medical insurance, barefoot doctors cured diseases for billions of farmers.
This inspired the WHO conference in Kazakhstan in 1978 to call on local communities to help decide healthcare priorities, call for an emphasis on primary and preventive healthcare, and seek to link medicine with trade, economics and other political and social areas.
Margaret Chan Fung Fu-chun, former director-general of the WHO, said China's experience in combating challenges is more useful for middle- and low-income countries than those of high-income nations.
China has made tremendous achievements in the medical and health sector and has improved the health of one-fifth of the world's population since the adoption of its reform and opening-up policy in 1978.
Over 95 percent of the Chinese population now enjoy basic medical insurance. Average life expectancy has grown from 35 years in the 1940s to 76.5 years in 2016, and the infant mortality rate declined to 0.75 percent in 2016.
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said he is impressed by the large scale, fast speed and high quality of China's medical health system reforms, adding that it serves as a good example for the rest of the world.
Ma said that focusing on relevant sustainable development goals, China has elevated its Healthy China initiative to a national strategy and released the Healthy China 2030 Outline for its national health progress.
Tedros said China has played a leading role in national health coverage, and the Healthy China 2030 Outline has demonstrated the government's determination to safeguard its citizens' health.
FOREIGN HEALTH ASSISTANCE
"We have more than 200 million cases of malaria a year and more than 90 percent of them are in Africa, so the focus on Africa is important," said Tedros, an Ethiopian who had specialized in malaria before taking the helm of the WHO last year.
"Working with research institutes in Africa, China has launched joint projects to adapt for use in Africa its practices in the prevention and control of malaria and schistosomiasis," Ma said, explaining that China is also a pioneer in global emergency response.
The change of the malaria situation in Comoros began in 2007, when a team of Chinese scientists introduced an anti-malaria project to the island of Moheli before extending it to Anjouan in 2012 and Grande Comore in 2013. On the three islands, it led to a 98-percent drop in malaria cases, from over 100,000 to 1,300 a year, said Chinese Ambassador to Comoros He Yanjun.
Over the years, China has continuously engaged in health assistance to other developing countries. Since 1963, China has sent medical teams to 69 developing countries, according to the official.
In 2014, China sent over 1,200 healthcare professionals and public health experts to help African nations in their response to Ebola. Ma said China is prepared to do so for the current Ebola crisis facing the Democratic Republic of Congo.
"China is playing a major leadership role in the global health agenda. It is a strong, economically powerful country with a vision to contributing to the fight against malaria and generally in the improvement of health beyond its own borders," said WHO Global Malaria Program Director Pedro Alonso.
"So we welcome the involvement of China in a leadership position, building out of its own experience, but putting also at the service of mankind, its talent, its capacity, its own products," he added.
FROM PEACE ARK TO HEALTH SILK ROAD
In 2017, the Chinese naval hospital ship Peace Ark sailed about 30,000 sea miles (about 56,000 km) along the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road for 155 days to provide medical services for people along the route.
In 2010-2015, the Peace Ark visited Asia, Africa, the Americas and Oceania. Around 120,000 people from a total of 29 countries and regions received free on-board medical and humanitarian services.
Lezi Kbamba, a 48-year-old musician, will hold another music show at the end of the month. This was something he desired, yet could not do, as he had been troubled by cloudy vision for three months due to a cataract in his right eye.
China's Brightness Action program offered him free surgeries to help him restore his eyesight. The program aims to provide free cataract surgeries to 200 patients in Namibia's capital Windhoek and the rural area of Rundu.
The Chinese government has also donated medical supplies worth 279,000 U.S. dollars to the southern African country to help with eye surgeries.
Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibe said the Belt and Road Initiative is a great initiative which helps to cope with challenges confronting the world.
The WHA, which took place from Monday to Saturday in Geneva, Switzerland, unveiled an ambitious plan on Monday aiming to benefit an overall population of 3 billion globally for the next five years with better health care and well-being.
The plan sets three strategic priorities to ensure healthy lives and promote the well-being for all at all ages -- namely, to help 1 billion more people benefit from universal health coverage, to help 1 billion more people to be better protected in health emergencies, and to help 1 billion more people enjoy better health and well-being.
"To achieve this goal, we must seize the opportunity of the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative to guarantee the health of billions of people involved in the initiative," Tedros said.