VII. International Medical and Healthcare Cooperation
For a long period of time, China has been actively participating in international health affairs, and has carried out extensive inter-government and non-governmental multilateral and bilateral cooperation and exchanges. China has also proactively taken part in major health programs of the international community and international organizations. The state pays great attention to international health assistance programs, and has played a huge role in improving the medical and health conditions in many developing countries by building hospitals, training medical and healthcare professionals and carrying out disease control there.
Support has been rendered to the work of the World Health Organization and other international organizations. China has been taking an active role in international discussions on health issues and sharing experiences in this regard. In the 1970s, China summarized its practices in healthcare and played an important part in the signing of the Declaration of Alma-Ata in 1978 on primary healthcare by contributing its medical experience. In recent years, China has been efficiently maintaining timely and close contact with the World Health Organization and various countries under the framework of the International Health Regulations (2005), making its due contribution to disease control on a global scale. The Chinese government makes annual donations to the World Health Organization, the Joint United Nations Program on HIV and AIDS (UNAIDS), the Global Fund to fight AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, and other international efforts. China also vigorously supports international work to combat chronic diseases and human avian influenza, as well as in tobacco control, emergency medical responses and other related technical fields.
Regional health cooperation has been strengthened. In 2003, China initiated cooperation in the field of infectious disease control with ASEAN, and has quickened its steps to promote regional health cooperation since then. Currently, China is carrying out health cooperation with peripheral countries and regional international aid programs within seven regional cooperation mechanisms, namely, those of the Greater Mekong Sub-region, Central Asia Region, China-ASEAN, ASEAN and China, Japan and Korea, Inter-China-Japan-Korea, Asia-Pacific, and Shanghai Cooperation Organization. Since 2005, China has been cooperating with Myanmar, Vietnam and Laos to carry out joint prevention and control programs of malaria and AIDS, as well as cross-border cooperation programs on the prevention and treatment of tuberculosis and dengue fever.
Medical teams have been sent to developing countries to improve medical conditions there. The medical teams China dispatches to developing countries to improve the medical and health conditions there are a regular aid program between the Chinese government and the recipient countries in accordance with bilateral agreements. In 1963, the Chinese government sent its first medical team abroad, to Algeria, and by 2011, China had sent medical teams to 73 countries. Currently, there are 56 Chinese medical teams in Algeria, Tanzania, Morocco, Zimbabwe and 49 other countries. The medical teams provide free medical services for local people there, especially people in poverty-stricken areas, as well as introducing advanced medical technology into the recipient countries. For 50 years, the Chinese medical teams have diagnosed and treated a total of 260 million cases, and their work has been much appreciated by the people and fully recognized by the governments of the recipient countries. So far, about 900 Chinese medical team members have been awarded honors by the recipient countries, and 50 members died during their service abroad.
Medical institutions have been built in developing countries with aid from China. Since 1970, China has been committed to helping developing countries in Africa and other areas to build medical institutions and improve their medical conditions. By the end of 2011, China had helped a total of 52 countries, and built 100 hospitals and medical centers for them, improving medical conditions and providing medical services for local people. China equipped the hospitals with a large number of complete sets of medical equipment and medicines, and in 2011 alone it shipped 34 batches of medical equipment and medicines to the recipient countries. By November 2011, 31 new projects in this regard were still under construction in 28 countries.
Health professionals have been trained by China for developing countries. The Chinese medical teams pass their medical knowledge and technology to local medics through personal tutorials, lectures and training courses, improving the medical technology of the recipient countries. The Chinese government supports health technology institutions to hold related study and training programs for developing countries in China. By 2011, China had held over 400 training courses for 15,000 persons on health management, emergency management, food hygiene, traditional medicine, infectious disease prevention and control, laboratory testing, health quarantine, nursing skills and other areas. To help developing countries train medical and health professionals of high caliber, China also offers government scholarships for students from developing countries studying medicine and TCM in China.
International emergency rescue has been undertaken. In 2004, Southeast Asia and South Asia suffered great casualties due to an earthquake in the Indian Ocean and the following tsunami. China promptly responded to the emergency by sending medical rescue teams to Thailand, Sri Lanka and Indonesia to help relief efforts there, and donated medical equipment and cash in US dollar to the affected countries through the World Health Organization. Over the past five years, the Chinese government has responded to about 200 health emergencies, sending medical rescue teams to Guinea-Bissau, Madagascar, Pakistan, Indonesia, Haiti and other countries stricken by epidemics or natural disasters, as well as providing relief supplies and cash to those countries. China has also dispatched rescue teams to Lebanon, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and other international peacekeeping mission areas to offer humanitarian medical aid there, and its Peace Ark hospital ship sailed to five Asian and African and four Latin-American nations to provide medical services to the people there.