Sierra Leone’s top envoy, Director-General and Ambassador-at-Large, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, has said, reflecting on the current strength and surge in the relationship between Sierra Leone and China, her country is hopeful “this strategic partnership would continue to grow from strength to strength for the mutual benefits of our two countries and peoples.”
Ambassador Kadijatu Bassir spoke on March 22nd in Beijing whilst making a presentation on Bilateral Cooperation with China, paying specific attention to her country’s health sector, at the China–Africa Development Cooperation for Child Health Meeting.
The meeting, organized by the Chinese Ministry of Commerce, the National Health and Family Planning Commission of China and China’s UNICEF Office, is a follow-up discussion to the 2015 Forum on China-Africa Cooperation and the China-Africa Health Ministerial Summit.
Ambassador Bassir said Sierra Leone’s entire governance structure desires to uphold and sustain recent gains made as well as promote relationship with China, whilst commending the ties that have existed for decades and have helped bring about economic and infrastructural growth in Sierra Leone. “Today we are proud of an ultra-modern Foreign Ministry Building, the Chinese Friendship Hospital at Jui, the Chinese management of the Satellite Clinic at King Harman Road, road infrastructure, and more.”
Specifically looking at the country’s health sector and the bilateral ties with China, she referenced the support the Chinese provided during the ebola outbreak in 2014. The Chinese Government, she said, reiterated its commitment to the bilateral ties with Sierra Leone “by being at the fore front of the battle against the deadly disease. It is worth emphasizing that the Chinese were the first to go into Sierra Leone at a time when our social structure was staring at death in the face.”
Madam Bassir informed participants, Chinese-aid to Sierra Leone was structured along the trajectory of Deployment of Medical Personnel; Capital Funds/Medical Equipments and Trainings and Seminars.
In the area of deployment of medical personnel, she said, China dispatched 426 medical personal between the period 2014 September and 2015 June to Sierra Leone.
“In August, 2014, the Department of International Cooperation of the National Health and Family Planning Commission of the People’s Republic of China sent to the Republic of Sierra Leone, eight personnel of the Chinese African Aid Expert Team to support Ebola Virus Disease control and laboratory investigation”, further disclosing how in the same month of August, another team of three doctors was to Sierra Leone to help contain the spread of Ebola Virus Disease.
At the request of the Government of Sierra Leone, China sent a mobile laboratory testing team to Sierra Leone on September 16, 2014. “The team, equipped with 59 medical experts specialized in laboratory testing, epidemiology, clinical medicine and nursing, was deployed at the Sierra Leone – China Friendship Hospital at Jui, just on the outskirts of Freetown, helping the country in the areas of laboratory screening and observation of suspected cases of Ebola”, Madam Bassir said.
In Capital Funds and Medical Equipments, she commended the Chinese for providing 1.5 million dollars cash, plus 900 tons of food supply through the World Food Programme, and 11 million dollars to the United Nations Ebola Response Multi-Partner Trust Fund, with an additional two million dollars which was given to the World Health Organization and two million dollars to the African Union, at the multilateral level.
“In September 17, 2014, China air lifted to Sierra Leone, two chartered planes, carrying a China Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) laboratory team and a China-Aided Mobile Laboratory as further support towards the country’s fight against the Ebola and in response to an appeal from the UN and WHO to support Africa in controlling Ebola”, the country’s top diplomat informed participants.
Madam Bassir also touched on trainings and seminars made available to Sierra Leonean Health Professionals, disclosing the China-Africa Public Health Cooperation Plan, initiated by the Chinese with commitment to organize 12 seminars on Public Health and Epidemic Control for the three Ebola affected countries, as well as carrying out joint research on tropical diseases and helping African countries establish an information platform for public health and monitoring network for epidemic prevention and control.
Ambassador Bassir is attending the session together with Dr. Santigie Sesay, Director, Reproductive and Child Health, Ministry of Health and Sanitation and Jenkins Alison, Chief of Child Survival Development-UNICEF Sierra Leone.
The meeting, at exploring how China and African countries could engage to generally promote maternal and child health and newborn health in particular, as a priority area for Chinese aid to African countries. It also will identify areas of potential support from UNICEF in line with the principles of “mutual respect, equality, keeping promise, mutual benefits and win-win” as laid out in China’s White Paper on development aid.
John Baimba Sesay
Sierra Leone Embassy- China