UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon held a special high-level meeting during the 69th UN General Assembly in New York City on September 25, in which he called on more countries to participate in the battle against the Ebola outbreak.
Under coordination of the WHO and the UN, China—together with the United States, France, the United Kingdom, Germany and Cuba—provided funds and medical assistance, including virus detection laboratories and medicines, as well as doctors, to affected areas in West Africa. Support and aid from the international community have helped West African countries contain the outbreak.
In addition, authorities and medical workers in affected countries have continually improved their anti-Ebola programs. For example, the WHO feared that Ebola would spread in Nigeria—the most populous country in Africa, with 160 million people—when the first case was found in its capital city of Lagos on July 23. However, Nigeria successfully contained the epidemic by using virus detection methods and strictly quarantining every person who made contact with an Ebola patient. Nigeria's experience is now being introduced to other countries struggling with the outbreak.
In the battle against the Ebola outbreak, China has always attached importance to providing help for West African countries. In April, at the early stage of the outbreak, China donated medical equipment and materials worth 1 million yuan ($162,900) to Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea-Bissau, respectively.
As the outbreak spread, the Chinese Government on August 7 provided epidemic areas with a second round of emergency humanitarian aid, including protective clothing, sanitizers and thermo-detectors, totaling 30 million yuan ($4.89 million).
Chinese President Xi Jinping announced 200 million yuan ($32.6 million) in aid including funding, food and materials to epidemic countries on September 18, in addition to a cash donation of $2 million to the WHO and the African Union each.
China launched the fourth round of aid to Ebola-affected countries on October 29. More Chinese public health experts were sent to critical areas to help train local doctors and nurses. Medical equipment including sick beds, ambulance vehicles and personal protective kits were also delivered to these countries. The Chinese Government also donated $6 million to a UN trust fund countering the Ebola outbreak.
The Chinese Government has launched a long-term program to support public healthcare development in Africa. Under the program, China will organize epidemic prevention trainings for the three countries worst hit by the Ebola virus, the AU and the Economic Community of West African States in 2015. Chinese scientists will participate in building the centers for disease control and prevention in Africa along with the AU.
In addition, China will enhance cooperation with the international community to cope with the Ebola virus. Chinese representatives have attended regular UN meetings on Ebola response. Aid from China to epidemic areas and international organizations has reached 750 million yuan ($122 million) so far.
Most importantly, Chinese medical corps have played an important role in helping contain the outbreak.
At present, there are 43 Chinese medical teams in 42 African countries, with nearly 1,000 team members. As the Ebola outbreak unfolded, Chinese medical teams did not leave the affected countries. On the contrary, they have actively participated in the battle against the epidemic alongside local people.
On November 15, two anti-Ebola teams of more than 200 Chinese medical workers and health experts arrived in Liberia and Sierra Leone.
During the dedication ceremony of a 100-bed China-aid Ebola treatment center in Monrovia, Liberia, on November 25, Cui Li, Vice Minister of China's National Health and Family Planning Commission, said that three batches of 500 medical staff from China will work in the center for six months to observe suspected Ebola patients and treat confirmed cases. Additionally, the teams will provide training to healthcare workers in Liberia.
According to official figures, China has sent more than 500 medical staff members and public health experts to Ebola-hit countries in West Africa since the outbreak, making it the country with the most foreign medical persons working in Ebola-affected countries.
The author is a researcher at the Institute of West Asian and African Studies under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences