China will keep sending medical staff, technology and relief materials to help African countries with Ebola outbreaks as they are needed, said Cui Li, vice-minister of the National Health and Family Planning Commission.
She made her remarks during an interview with China Daily soon after World Health Organization Director General Margaret Chan warned against complacency in the fight against Ebola, the deadly disease still affecting West Africa.
Chan said that the fight against Ebola faced huge challenges, and she called on the international community and the virus-hit countries to work together to tackle them.
Cui, in response, said: “Medical assistance, targeted to needs, will stay in the Ebola-hit countries and other African countries to finally reverse the epidemic. To contain the epidemic where it started is in the best public health interests of people in the rest of the world, including the Chinese.”
As of Feb 9, China had sent nearly 800 medical workers to affected regions, and it will continue sending workers for at least six months, with plans to send 200 more medical staff members in coming months to assist in the outbreak response, said Cui.
“Experiences gained from the aid project in the anti-Ebola campaign this time will be studied to help form the guidelines on China’s medical aid programs in the future,” Cui said.
In the largest-ever medical aid program so far implemented by China, the government has sent a total of 750 million yuan ($120 million) worth of humanitarian and medical assistance to 13 Ebola-affected countries since the outbreak in West Africa began. About 800 medical personnel on both the clinical and public health sides have been sent to epidemic areas to combat Ebola, train local medical workers and help sustain the efforts, statistics from the WHO showed.
To date, more than 10,000 local staff members working in Ebola control and prevention, including doctors, nurses and community health workers, have been trained by Chinese experts, according to the commission.
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang pledged last month while meeting with the WHO’s Margaret Chan that China would perform its duty as a major developing country and continue to do everything in its power to help the Ebola-hit countries together with the international community.
“China will also help African countries to develop their health systems so that they can adapt to the post-Ebola era,” he said during his visit to Switzerland to attend the World Economic Forum annual meeting in Davos.
Chan responded that the WHO stood ready to cooperate closely with China, raise the level of awareness and coordinate all sides to achieve the final victory.
She hailed China’s important role in the fight against the Ebola outbreak, calling it “exemplary” for the international community.
According to Cui Li, Chinese teams on the ground have to date provided testing for more than 4,200 Ebola virus cases in their mobile lab and received nearly 700 confirmed patients at their observation and treatment centers.
She said China’s actions and support in combating Ebola have been timely and sustainable.