Deepen International Cooperation to Combat COVID-19 and Build a Global Community of Health for All
COVID-19 is one of the most serious infectious diseases to threaten human lives and health in the past century. The virus has spread suddenly and rapidly around the world, with more than 210 countries and regions affected and 1.6 million confirmed cases worldwide as of April 13. This has posed a significant challenge to the world's public health security. Deepening international cooperation on combating the COVID-19 pandemic and building a global community of health for all have always been important components of China's efforts to counter the spread of the virus. President Xi Jinping has personally planned and led China's response to this virus. As well as taking resolute steps to stem the spread of COVID-19 in China, President Xi has stressed the importance of international cooperation to combat the pandemic. To this end, he has given multiple speeches and issued important instructions, engaged in top-level diplomacy and advocated "building a global community of health for all," giving expression to China's desire to work with countries around the world to combat COVID-19 and our sincere desire to help each other in times of difficulty. President Xi has set out a path for the international community to fight COVID-19, providing momentum and strengthening the confidence of various countries to combat the virus by setting an example and demonstrating the way a responsible major country should act.
We have promptly, transparently and unreservedly shared with the world information on, and our experience of fighting, COVID-19.
China has a strong sense of responsibility for the lives and health of the people of China and the world. From January 3 of this year, China has been providing the WHO and other countries, including the U.S., as well as the Chinese regions of Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan, with timely, proactive and transparent information regarding novel coronavirus disease. At the earliest opportunity, we shared with the world whole-genome sequences along with primer and probe information of the virus. Chinese experts have published more than 1,100 papers in English-language academic journals, including nearly 100 in highly influential international journals, such as The Lancet. China has proactively launched an online knowledge center for containing COVID-19, which facilitates the online sharing of scientific knowledge, training videos and the latest technical guidance and research results, and it has already been accessed by more than 200,000 people worldwide. We have also brought together authoritative public health and clinical experts with experience in dealing with the virus to engage in international collaboration and unreservedly share with over 180 countries and more than 10 international and regional organizations China's experience and techniques of containing, diagnosing, and treating the virus. Zhong Nanshan and Li Lanjuan, two academicians along with other medical and public health experts involved in frontline treatment in Wuhan, have conducted video calls with foreign colleagues to provide information on detecting and diagnosing COVID-19, treating severe cases, preventing nosocomial transmission, administering drugs and managing medical staff, thereby responding efficiently and precisely to foreign concerns. We have subsequently received positive feedback from the international community about the value of China's experience in fighting COVID-19.
Members of a team of experts from the Red Cross Society of China sent to assist Iraq in fighting COVID-19 adjust equipment at a nucleic acid testing lab in Baghdad on March 18, 2020. XINHUA
We have eagerly engaged in multilateral and bilateral cooperation, strengthened global unity, and supported the leading role of the WHO in combating COVID-19.
When China initially discovered the novel coronavirus, President Xi met with visiting WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus to convey to the world China's firm determination and confidence to beat the virus and the message received the understanding and support of the international community. President Xi also expressed China's strong support for the WHO's role in leading a coordinated global response to combat the virus involving the following points. First was to maintain information exchanges and arrange for a joint mission composed of experts from China and the WHO to travel to Beijing, Guangdong, Sichuan, and Hubei (whose capital city being Wuhan) and conduct in-depth inspections of the virus situation, containment measures, medical treatments, and scientific research, so as to provide constructive suggestions on responding to the COVID-19 outbreak in China and around the world. The foreign head of the joint mission stated that, "China has rolled out perhaps the most ambitious, agile, and aggressive disease containment effort in history," and in just seven weeks, "it averted, or at least delayed hundreds of thousands of COVID-19 cases." The WHO has repeatedly praised China's strong containment work, which has set a new benchmark for the world, and it has called on countries to learn from China's experience. The second point was to engage in technical cooperation and for China and the WHO to hold an international news briefing to share China's experience in virus containment. Representatives from 77 countries and 7 international organizations attended the meeting, with more than 110,000 people watching online, and the response was very positive. The third point was to provide financial assistance to the WHO via a donation of US$20 million to support its international containment work, with the focus on helping developing countries strengthen their public health systems so they are better placed to respond to the virus outbreak. At the bilateral and regional levels, President Xi expressed China's intention to consult on policies and exchange technology, including receiving the Egyptian President's special envoy, the Egyptian Minister of Health and Population in China, as well as holding more than 40 discussions on containment with economic and regional organizations, including the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, European Union, Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, African Union, Caribbean Community and Shanghai Cooperation Organization, and international organizations such as the World Bank.
A team of Chinese medical experts sent to assist Cambodia visits the Khmer-Soviet Friendship Hospital in Phnom Penh on March 24, 2020.
XINHUA / PHOTO PROVIDED BY THE EXPERT TEAM
We have stood shoulder to shoulder with other countries and provided all the assistance we can to those in need.
On March 26, President Xi attended the Extraordinary G20 Leaders' Summit on COVID-19 in Beijing and gave an important speech in which he called on all countries to reinforce their confidence, act with unity, and work together in a collective response. He stated that, guided by the vision of building a global community with a shared future, China is eager to share successful practices, conduct joint research and development of drugs and vaccines, and provide all assistance possible to countries where the virus has spread to.
In the course of China's response to COVID-19, many countries, regions and international organizations have given China assistance and sent their support in various ways, which has brought us great comfort and will always be remembered by the Chinese people. China, in turn, empathizes with countries and regions currently facing severe outbreaks. As well as striving to overcome our own difficulties, China has provided practical assistance to more than 140 countries and international organizations, demonstrating the traditional Chinese virtues of helping the needy and reciprocating acts of generosity. China has also sent teams of medical experts to countries with severe outbreaks, including, Cambodia, Iran, Iraq, Italy, Kazakhstan, Laos, Myanmar, Pakistan, the Philippines, Russia, Serbia, and Venezuela, to advise on COVID-19 containment plans, bolster medical and public health personnel capacity, and provide targeted guidance and training in specific areas. These teams of experts have been welcomed by local governments, colleagues, and people, and their professional suggestions have been valued and adopted in Serbia, Pakistan, Italy, and Cambodia. Countries that have received teams of Chinese experts have made full use of them by conducting training in local hospitals to improve the skills of medical personnel in the areas of early detection and diagnosis and clinical treatment. China is also supporting the African Center for Disease Control and Prevention to play a core technical role in containing the pandemic and has sent senior consultants to the Africa CDC who have provided a great deal of valuable advice. African countries have stated that China's experience has provided important lessons on stemming the spread of the virus, and they have thanked China for its valuable support.
We have been innovative in our methods and proactive in providing services to guarantee the health and safety of our citizens abroad and of overseas Chinese.
The COVID-19 pandemic is continuing to spread around the world, and the lives of Chinese citizens abroad and of overseas Chinese, especially the many students studying abroad, is an ongoing concern to the Chinese government and their families at home. The National Health Commission (NHC) of the People's Republic of China has set up a question-and-answer board on its official website as well as a "COVID-19 scientific knowledge sharing" feature on social media platforms, such as WeChat, Weibo, and TikTok, for disseminating relevant scientific information. Under the guidance of the NH C and Chinese embassies and consulates, the more than 50 foreign aid medical teams and medical expert teams currently stationed in other countries have received remote guidance and consultations from hospitals back in China and used online video conferencing and offline speaking tours to conduct more than 250 knowledge-sharing and training sessions on virus containment for employees of local Chinese-funded enterprises, Chinese chambers of commerce, overseas students, and other overseas Chinese. They have also provided diagnosis and treatment consulting services, guided others in scientific protection methods, and helped ease feelings of anxiety, becoming guardians of the health of Chinese citizens abroad. In addition, the NHC has been working with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Education to provide overseas students with manuals on how to avoid COVID-19, and medical workers have been assigned to chartered and temporarily scheduled flights to provide emergency medical care for Chinese citizens returning home.
Viruses do not respect borders and pandemics do not distinguish between races. Only through solidarity and cooperation can the international community prevail over COVID-19 and protect humanity's common home. The pandemic is still spreading across the globe, and the traditional and non- traditional security threats intertwined with it are contributing to an increasingly complex and uncertain situation. The only definite fact is that countries of the world share a common future, and the only correct response is for us to build a global community of health for all as a tangible expression of our global health cooperation to realize the concept of building a global community with a shared future.
Sichuan University Huaxi Hospital provides remote training on COVID-19 prevention and control for Maputo Central Hospital in Mozambique.
PHOTO BY XINHUA REPORTER ZHANG LANG
We have vigorously advocated the development of a global community of health for all and prioritized human safety and health in our international cooperation on combating COVID-19.
The aim of building a global community of health for all is to use cooperation to protect and promote the health, security, and sustainable development of all humanity. This was the solemn commitment made by China and governments around the world in the UN Charter and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. If people lack safety and health in their lives, there will be no healthy human resources, and economic and social development will be without foundation or significance. China will, as it has always done, uphold the value of a global community of health for all, maintain a comprehensive outlook on health and security, strengthen mutual learning with other countries, and seek to learn from advanced international ideas, experiences, and management approaches concerning virus containment, in order to protect the lives and health of over 1.4 billion Chinese people. China will also urge countries that still harbor doubts to make the right choice and join forces to combat the pandemic.
We are working to prevent inbound cases of COVID-19 from causing a resurgence domestically, while supporting global cooperation on virus containment.
The global pandemic remains severe and complex. The risk of inbound cases in China is increasing. In addition, the undetectable nature of infection and strong transmission of the virus mean that we must maintain rigorous measures to prevent a resurgence. It is necessary to carefully assess risks brought by inbound cases, and it is especially important to strengthen cooperation on containment with neighboring countries and move our effort forward to the point of containment, so as to implement virus control in border areas. While continuing to make prevention and control a norm at home, China is sending teams of medical experts to countries badly affected by the pandemic to provide as much support as possible, in accordance with instructions of the central authorities. China is guiding medical teams abroad on improving containment technology and treatment and providing additional medical supplies. We are also working with local health ministries and WHO offices to better assist host countries carry out COVID-19 containment, as well as to protect the health and safety of Chinese citizens abroad.
We are adhering to a method of collaboration on international containment that places equal emphasis on technology and materials as well as on assistance and cooperation.
In this major test posed by the global pandemic, China was the first country to contain the virus. We have paid a huge price for valuable knowledge and a wealth of experience regarding the struggle between humans and viruses, which can serve as a guiding light for countries of the world caught up in this pandemic. We are actively responding to eager demands from the international community to learn from our experience in virus containment. In addition to providing medical supplies, we are offering technical assistance and exchanges and cooperation between institutions and experts in the areas of COVID-19 information monitoring, detection, diagnosis, treatment, health systems and policies, hospital management, health informationization, cross-border teleconsultations, pharmaceutical R&D, and the healthy industry. We are developing and consolidating various cooperation networks and mechanisms to enhance future response capabilities through mutual learning. Our online knowledge center on containing COVID-19 will be continuously updated and improved. We are also aiming to hold about 20 videoconferences for experts to engage in technical exchanges.
We have participated in global health governance and contributed Chinese wisdom and goods.
This pandemic has highlighted the need to reform the global health governance system. We must push health security issues higher up the international cooperation agenda. It is also essential that major powers bear corresponding international responsibilities, resist the urge of "political viruses," and act as the mainstays of international cooperation when it comes to containment efforts. China intends to focus on the four-point initiative proposed by President Xi at the Extraordinary G20 Leaders' Summit on COVID-19. We will strengthen information sharing, policy coordination, and concerted action with other countries and international organizations; deepen cooperation on drug and vaccine research and development; help developing countries with weak public health systems to improve their response capabilities and prevent cross-border transmission of the virus; and deepen cooperation and coordination on containment with regional organizations and mechanisms, contributing China's wisdom, technology, and products to the global fight against COVID-19.
COVID-19 has given the international community a glimpse of China's powerful collective will and ability to forge ahead through unity, as well as its willingness to take responsibility and help the world. This has provided a vivid embodiment of the concept of a global community of shared future under the lens of the pandemic. China has set an example for international efforts and global cooperation on containing COVID-19. As long as the correct choices are made and there is unity and concerted action, we will beat COVID-19. China's medical and health workers will continue to make it their responsibility to build a global community of health for all and work with colleagues around the world to overcome current difficulties until the battle against this pandemic is finally won.
Ma Xiaowei is Minister of the National Health Commission and Secretary of its CPC Leadership Group.
(Originally appeared in Qiushi Journal, Chinese edition, No. 8, 2020)