Chinese anti-epidemic experts fight COVID-19 head-on in Africa

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Chinese teams of medical experts have arrived in Djibouti and Cote d'Ivoire to help the countries fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

The teams are organized by the National Health Commission and selected by health commissions of Sichuan Province and Tianjin Municipality, respectively.

The latest two teams came after two teams of Chinese medical experts arrived in Ethiopia and Burkina Faso earlier in April. China has also activated its medical teams stationed there to help fight COVID-19.

There are nearly 1,000 Chinese medical personnel working in Africa long-term, according to China's National Health Commission. China has sent about 22,000 medical workers accumulatively to Africa during the past decades, and benefited about 220,000,000 local patients in total, according to Chinese Ambassador to Togo Chao Weidong.

As COVID-19 cases continue to surge across the African continent, the Chinese anti-pandemic medical experts dispatched by the Chinese government have greatly helped Africa in confronting the pandemic.

The Chinese anti-pandemic medical expert team to Ethiopia, which comprises 12 medical experts specializing in various public health sectors, arrived in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa on April 16 as part of China's continuing solidarity in assisting the East African country on the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.

They have emphasized the ongoing "excellent and fruitful" collaboration with their Ethiopian counterparts as well as experts from the Africa Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) in their joint fight against COVID-19 over the past two weeks period.

Li Nian, a medical doctor specialized in preventive medicine from West China Sichuan University, who is also the head of medical administration at the university, is one of the 12 highly-trained medical experts with first-hand experience in the fight against COVID-19 at home since the virus spread in part of China.

"We have visited the Ethiopian Public Health Institute (EPHI), quarantine centers, isolation centers, Fangcang Hospital transformed by Millennium Hall, and COVID-19-designated hospitals; and we had detailed discussion with hospital administrators and frontline healthcare workers to share our experience for fighting against COVID-19 in China and to provide our supports and suggestions," Li told Xinhua on Saturday, as his team presently joined their Ethiopian counterparts in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic in the East African country.

"The collaboration is excellent and fruitful," Li said, adding that "we highly respect expertise of experts from the Ethiopian government and the Africa CDC, and we have been impressed by their open attitude."

The 12-member Chinese anti-pandemic medical expert team includes medical experts specializing in various public health sectors including general surgery, epidemiology, respiratory, infectious diseases, critical care, clinical laboratory and integration of traditional Chinese and Western medicine.

"We had meetings with officers and experts from the Ministry of Health of Ethiopia, the Africa Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) Ethiopia Office to exchange experiences, academic opinions, comments and suggestions in detail," he added.

Li, along with the rest of the 12-member Chinese anti-pandemic experts' team, has been also providing onsite and telecommunication-based trainings including lectures and practical exercises.

"We have also donated some personal protective equipment for several hospitals," Li said, as he emphasized the constructive joint efforts and collaboration with the Ethiopian experts as health as from the Africa CDC -- specialized healthcare agency of the 55-member pan African bloc African Union (AU).

"We contributed our expertise and experience leant from our practice in China. Collaboration is essential for defeating COVID-19, the invisible enemy of human being. The collaboration between China and Africa including Ethiopia will be strengthened in the future," he added.

Noting that majority of the 12-member Chinese anti-epidemic medical experts' team deployed in Ethiopia are clinicians in profession, Li also stressed that "we shared our experiences in prevention, patient management, viral testing, infection control, protection of healthcare workers and so on with front-line healthcare workers."

The Ethiopian and Africa CDC professionals responded in a very positive way. As they are indeed experts in managing infectious diseases, they are willing to listen to our suggestions from practice.

Li, who emphasized that "collaboration is essential" in dealing with a public health threat in the magnitude of COVID-19, also stressed that "there are many rooms for strengthening the collaboration such as training, scientific research, infection control practices, among others."

Noting the geographic barrier between China and the African continent, the Chinese anti-epidemic medical expert also advised that "as China and Africa are far away in distance, I think that telecommunication-based methods may be one good way to put forward the collaborations."

Meanwhile, as the Chinese medical experts joined their Ethiopian counterparts in the fight against COVID-19, Ethiopians across different walks of lives have been also commending the move as a great demonstration of solidarity to deal with the COVID-19 response in Ethiopia.

"It is a precious gesture of brotherhood and togetherness demonstrated by the Chinese government in general and the 12 medical professionals in particular," Mahlet Dinku, a 27-years-old Ethiopian medical science student, told Xinhua recently.

Dinku also emphasized the "selfless deed and sacrifice exhibited by the Chinese anti-pandemic medical experts' team "to come all the way from China to Ethiopia to help us cope with the COVID-19 outbreak."

She further underscored the crucial timing of the latest Chinese assistance, as she underscored that "we sincerely welcomed them as they arrived here while we as a nation are bracing for practically the most difficult time of our recent history."

Ethiopian Ministers of Health, Lia Tadesse, had also recently emphasized the crucial role that the Chinese medical experts' team play in Ethiopia's efforts to contend the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"The highly trained experts and professionals who have been active in COVID-19 response in China and with frontline experience came here along with support from the Chinese government," Tadesse told Xinhua.

"The global community should forge strong partnership if the world has to overcome the crisis," Costantinos Bt. Costantinos, who served as an economic advisor to the AU and the UNECA, told Xinhua recently.

Noting that both the Chinese government and Chinese enterprises have in recent weeks continued sending shipments of medical supplies to hard-hit countries across Africa, Costantinos said China has been "rallying for global coordination in managing the coronavirus outbreak."

The Africa CDC in its latest situation update disclosed the number of COVID-19 confirmed cases in Africa has reached 39,018 on Friday evening. Meanwhile, the death toll from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic on the African continent reached 1,640.

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