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Medical Aid to Africa Focuses on Malaria

The prevention and cure of malaria will be focus of the Chinese government's medical assistance to Africa.

According to a plan, the Chinese government will provide 300 million yuan (US$37 million) in assistance to Africa in the next three years to battle the disease.

The plan also calls for the training of 15,000 professionals, including doctors, and the building of 30 hospitals.

According to sources with the Ministry of Commerce, this year China will provide medicines for malaria to 33 African countries. A Chinese centre for the prevention and cure of the disease will also be set up.

Co-operation in the health sector between China and African countries have strengthened since 1963 when China first sent a medical team to Algeria, Mao Qun'an, spokesman for the Ministry of Health said.

By the end of 2005, China had dispatched more than 15,000 medical personnel to 47 African countries and treated about 170 million patients.

Currently, China has a medical staff of more than 950 in 36 African countries.

During the past 40 years, Chinese medical teams have not only treated common diseases, but have also successfully carried out heart operations, cancer surgery, and the re-attachment of severed limbs.

The people of Africa have warmly welcomed this assistance, and so far more than 600 members of Chinese medical teams have been awarded various medals in appreciation. China has also been praised as a model for multinational cooperation.

The Chinese side has strengthened the training of African health professionals since the establishment of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation in 2004.

Training programs cover traditional Chinese medicine, clinical medicine, disease control, and rural health management.

Last year, Chinese health authorities trained 360 Africans.

Chinese doctors have endured difficult conditions in Africa.

Sun Meifang, a doctor of the department of gynecology and obstetrics who worked in Morocco between 2001 and 2003, told China Central Television that the provincial-level hospital she worked in had worse equipment than rural clinics in China.

"The hospital was short of proper equipment and medicines," she said.

The Chinese doctors also face the risk of HIV/AIDS in Africa.

During the past 44 years, a total of 37 medical workers have died due to various diseases.

Between five and six medical delegations from African countries visit China each year, and a similar number from China visit Africa each year.

Mao Qun'an said the visits had strengthened mutual trust and understanding.

(China Daily February 1, 2007)

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