China made concerted efforts to help the world go through the pandemic
  ·  2023-06-01  ·   Source: Xinhua News Agency
Workers unload a batch of China-donated COVID-19 vaccines at M'poko International Airport in Bangui, Central African Republic, on July 6, 2021 (XINHUA) 
The 76th World Health Assembly (WHA), focused on "saving lives, driving health for all," wrapped up in Geneva, Switzerland, on May 30. 

This year's WHA convened at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic no longer constitutes a Public Health Emergency of International Concern, and the world is progressing toward a return to normalcy. At this crucial moment, the assembly emphasized the need to reflect on the past, strengthen disease response, and prepare for future pandemics and other threats.

During the past three years, humanity confronted an abrupt pandemic outbreak with insufficient preparedness. Throughout this challenging period, countries, including China, made concerted efforts to address this unprecedented global health crisis. Despite facing initial challenges and moments of uncertainty, the world has gained valuable lessons and insights for the future.

Life matters 

"It was a moment of relief and reflection," WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in his report to member states at the 76th WHA. He noted that although it is encouraging to see life return to normal, many of us continue to carry grief over those we have lost and the feeling that it didn't need to be this way.

The public health emergency declaration on Jan. 30, 2020, the highest level of global concern specified in the international, legally binding health regulations, did not lead to an urgent, coordinated and worldwide response. In the face of the sudden health crisis, different countries made varying choices regarding their response strategies.

China, home to 1.4 billion people, chose to protect the safety and health of its people.

Quarantining large cities, building a 1,000-bed hospital in just 10 days and sharing critical information with the world without delay ... China's decisive and timely measures have not only safeguarded the health and lives of its own citizens but provided precious time for other nations to prepare, thereby playing a significant role in the global effort to fight the disease.

The Chinese people "are protecting the world from an even faster spread through their willingness to make sacrifices and their commitment," said Michael Schumann, head of the German Federal Association for Economic Development and Foreign Trade. "They deserve our respect and our active and energetic support."

"If it weren't for China's efforts, the number of cases outside China would have been very much higher," Tedros has said.

Sharing with reservation 

China's contribution to the global fight against the pandemic goes beyond successfully managing infection rates within its borders. It has generously extended aid to other nations and selflessly shared its invaluable experience, ultimately saving countless lives worldwide. 

Cao Xuetao, deputy head of the National Health Commission of China, told the 76th WHA that as of May 2022, in addition to supplies, the Chinese government has also dispatched 38 experienced medical teams to 34 countries to assist in the fight against COVID-19.

"We offer them our immense gratitude, especially for sending their experts. They have proven as friends in the most difficult times when we fight for the lives of Serbian people," said Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic.

During the pandemic, vaccine inequity jeopardized global efforts to combat the virus. In response, China was the first country to propose COVID-19 vaccines as a global public good and exempt vaccine intellectual property rights. These moves provided a significant boost toward closing the global immunization gap.

Over the past three years, China has provided over 2.2 billion COVID-19 vaccine doses to more than 120 countries and international organizations, and such substantial contribution has offered vital support to developing nations in their battle against the COVID-19 pandemic.

Chinese technology further played a role in enhancing the world's capacity to fight COVID.

In addition to partnering with renowned institutions like Brazil's Butantan Institute to conduct essential clinical trials, China has extended its collaboration to other developing nations, including The United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Indonesia, assisting them in bolstering local vaccine production.

Such cooperation has empowered countries to stand firm during the pandemic and fostered more self-reliance among developing nations.

"When the world was shrouded in darkness by the pandemic, China stepped up and offered us help, demonstrating (the spirit of) solidarity and cooperation," Dominican Senator Aris Yvan Lorenzo has said.

Health for all  

Despite the waning influence of COVID-19, the difficulties and sacrifices endured during these three years have reminded us of the imperative to enhance cooperation and create a future where every person has access to the health services they need.

During his report to the Assembly, Tedros said COVID-19 had significant implications for health-related targets under the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which have a deadline of 2030, and each of the "triple billion" targets.

Announced at the 2017 WHA, the five-year initiative calls for ensuring one billion more people have universal health coverage, a billion more are better protected from health emergencies, and another billion enjoy better health and well-being.

Countries have made progress on providing universal health coverage, with some 477 million people benefitting today. However, he warned that if current trends continue, fewer than half of the world's people would be covered by the decade's end, "meaning we must, at least, double the pace."

China has always been a contributor to global cooperation in the field of public health. In 2020, China put forward the vision of building a global community of health for all.

Under such a spirit, China has provided anti-pandemic supplies to 153 countries and 15 international organizations and co-hosted more than 300 exchange activities on epidemic prevention and control and medical treatment with over 180 countries and regions and more than 10 international institutions.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has said that China's support and help have shown the world the spirit of unity and cooperation.

Actually, China's support extends beyond the pandemic and can be dated back six decades.

Since the first Chinese medical team arrived in Algeria in 1963, China has dispatched around 30,000 medical personnel to 76 countries and regions across five continents, primarily focusing on Africa, providing 290 million diagnoses and treatments for Africans, according to the National Health Commission of China.

China's proposal to build a global community of health for all is "excellent," Jones Albuquerque, a research scientist at the Keizo Asami Laboratory of Immunopathology of the Federal University of Pernambuco, told Xinhua in a recent interview.

In his closing remarks at the World Health Assembly, Tedros emphasized the importance of a global community of health that serves everyone.

"To pathogens, we are all one, and that's how we must see ourselves: one people, sharing one planet, working together with one purpose -- the highest attainable standard of health for all people."

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