African Union praises China health aid

African Union praises China’s help to promote health in Africa – Africa CDC headquarters wins acclaim as major outcome of BRI cooperation

The China-aided African Center for Disease Control (CDC) Headquarters Building Project, a milestone project in China-Africa public health cooperation, was officially inaugurated on January 11, 2023 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

China funded and built the Africa CDC headquarters, which accommodates all key facilities in one place, helping to scale up the African health system.

Xinhua reports that officials of the African Union Commission (AUC) have lauded Africa-China cooperation in the health sector, whereby China has proven to be a strategic partner in dealing with infectious diseases, including Tuberculosis (TB) in Africa.

Sheila Shawa, a senior technical specialist of the AUC, said China has remained a real partner to Africa by building the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) to advance public health in Africa.

“The AU Commission develops policies, and the Africa CDC implements those policies by going to each member state. The center is contributing a lot to addressing infectious diseases, strengthening disease diagnosis and developing vaccines,” Shawa told Xinhua in a recent interview.

She said the Africa CDC has a huge significance in workforce development, disease outbreak response, surveillance and early warning across the continent.

“We call upon China to further engage in infrastructure development across the continent that will lead to improvement of sanitation and hygiene and ultimately reduction of TB infection,” Shawa said.

Botswanan Minister of Health Edwin Dikoloti inspects one of the four mobile clinics at their launching ceremony in Gaborone, Botswana on Sept. 28, 2023. [Photo by Tshekiso Tebalo/Xinhua]

Francis Chisaka Kasolo, director of the World Health Organization (WHO) liaison office at the AU and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, said the Africa CDC brings additional impetus to AU member states to respond to the TB pandemic and other communicable diseases.

“Having a centralized Africa CDC here is really a bonus for the continent and helps partners, including my own organization, the World Health Organization, fight TB on the continent,” Kasolo told Xinhua.

According to a WHO report, an estimated 2.5 million people fell ill with TB in Africa, resulting in around 424,000 deaths in 2022.

Noting that Africa-China cooperation in the health sector is gaining momentum over time, Kasolo said the African Union is working to develop vaccines locally at the Chinese-built Africa CDC complex in Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia.

“China has a history of working with Africa for many years, and now the hope is that it will continue investing in health and supporting African institutions to promote health across the continent,” Kasolo added.

The officials made these remarks Friday on the sideline of an event marking World Tuberculosis Day, which falls on March 24 every year to raise people’s awareness of the disease, at the AU headquarters in Addis Ababa, under the theme of “Yes! We can end TB!”