Liu Yandong's keynote speech at the Ministerial Forum on China-Africa Health

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不断深化中非卫生合作 促进人类健康事业发展




Deepen China-Africa Health Cooperation for the Humanity's Cause of Health Promotion

Keynote Speech by Her Excellency Liu Yandong, Vice Premier of the State Council of the People's Republic of China, at the Opening Ceremony of the Ministerial Forum on China-Africa Health Cooperation

Beijing, 16 August 2013



Distinguished Guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen, Dear Friends,


Good morning. It gives me great pleasure to attend the Ministerial Forum on China-Africa Health Cooperation. The forum today, which brings together health ministry officials of 47 African countries and the representatives of eight international organizations, provides us with an important opportunity to discuss China-Africa health cooperation and the humanity's cause of health promotion. Just now, President Xi Jinping met with the African delegates to the forum and the model units and individuals of the Chinese medical teams. President Xi also delivered an important speech, in which he applauded the growth of China-Africa relations. He reaffirmed China's position of developing friendly relations with Africa and staying a reliable friend and sincere partner of African countries, and shared his vision for China-Africa cooperation, especially in the field of health. This will lay the foundation for China-Africa relations to scale new heights. Premier Li Keqiang also attaches great importance to China-Africa relations, and has given several instructions on China's medical assistance to Africa. Here, on behalf of the Chinese government, I would like to warmly welcome all the Chinese and foreign guests and friends to the forum. I also wish to take this opportunity to pay high tribute and express heartfelt thanks to those who have made important contribution to China-Africa health cooperation over the years.


There is an old saying in China which goes, "a river with fresh source will flourish and a tree with deep root will thrive." Though China and Africa are far apart geographically, we have a long-standing and vibrant friendship. Chairman Mao Zedong, Premier Zhou Enlai and other first-generation Chinese leaders ushered in a new era of China-Africa relations together with the older-generation political leaders in Africa. The Chinese and African peoples have extended mutual support in the struggle for national independence and liberation, carried out wholehearted cooperation in seeking national rejuvenation, ensuring the happiness of the people and upholding the noble cause of world peace, and forged a brotherly friendship of shared destiny and fortune.


Since the turn of the century, China-Africa cooperation has entered a new phase. The launch of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) in 2000 provided an important platform for collective dialogue between China and Africa and an effective mechanism for conducting result-oriented cooperation. It has become a banner guiding the development of China-Africa relations and a flagship brand of China-Africa friendly cooperation. With the establishment of the new type of China-Africa strategic partnership during the FOCAC Beijing Summit in 2006, China-Africa relations have embarked on a fast track of all-around development. What we have between China and Africa is a comprehensive partnership, featuring mutual respect and trust on the political front, win-win cooperation in the economic field, mutual learning in the cultural sphere, as well as mutual support and assistance in global affairs. China is now the largest trading partner for Africa, while Africa is the fourth largest destination of overseas Chinese investment.


China-Africa relations have stood the test of various challenges over the past 50 years and more. Our cooperation is gaining strength in all areas, and cooperation on health is the most convincing evidence of the genuine friendship between China and Africa. Countries are separated by boundaries, but love knows no border. For 50 straight years, China has dispatched a total of 18,900 medical personnel to Africa, and treated 250 million African patients. Fifty Chinese medical workers were laid to rest on their beloved land of Africa. The Chinese medical teams have made selfless contribution to improving the health and saving the lives of our African brothers and sisters, and, together with the African people who are giving them care and support, sowed the seeds of the evergreen tree of China-Africa friendship.




Ladies and Gentlemen,

To develop better health services and ensure the health of our citizens is not only the goal to be achieved through China-Africa cooperation but also the common aspiration of the international community. Health is defined as a basic human right in both the Constitution of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. The UN "Human Development Index" uses three key indicators, namely, life expectancy, years of schooling and per capita GDP, as the yardstick for measuring the progress of member states in economic and social development. The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) initiated by the UN in 2000 also places health-related indicators at the heart of its agenda. In recent years, to meet the goal of improving the health of the public, countries around the world have all paid more attention to making innovation in the medical and health system and strengthening institutional building, and regarded it as a fundamental national strategy for upholding social order and harmony, enhancing unity among ethnic groups, boosting the appeal of their social systems, and improving their national image in the international arena.


The Chinese government all along attaches great importance to the health of the public and the development of medical and health services. Soon after the founding of the People's Republic in 1949, despite the great difficulties posed by poverty, backwardness and lack of medical professionals and products, we successfully established a health service network covering both urban and rural areas, and effectively controlled the spread of life-threatening diseases. In the meantime, we put in place a medical and health service system based on the provision of primary healthcare services, and markedly improved the health conditions of the Chinese public. In the last 30 years and more since the launch of reform and opening-up, the Chinese government has conducted reform and innovation consistent with China's national conditions, increased input in public health, and made vigorous efforts to promote the development of health services with Chinese characteristics. Since 2009 in particular, the Chinese government has deepened its reform of the medical and health system. Following the principles of "ensuring basic medical services, bolstering support at the community level and building sound institutions", we have established the framework of the basic medical and health system, and offered a Chinese solution to the issue of healthcare reform, which is a challenge for all governments in the world. Over the last 60 years and more, China has gradually raised the standards of its health services, and made a series of important achievements in this regard:


First, we have raised the health standards of the Chinese people by a notable margin. The average life expectancy has increased from 35 years in 1949, the year when New China was founded, to the current 74.83 years. Maternal mortality rate dropped from 1,500/100,000 in 1949 to 26.1/100,000 in 2011. Infant mortality rate fell from 50.2‰ in 1990 to 12.1‰ in 2011, meeting the MDGs ahead of schedule. Human development index rose from 0.407 in 1980 to 0.699 in 2012, making China one of the best-performing developing countries in terms of the health of the public.


Second, we have ensured greater equity in the provision of basic public health services. Universal coverage of medical insurance is basically achieved. Currently, there are more than 1.3 billion subscribers of various medical insurance schemes in China, covering over 95% of the total population. The benefits of insurance are also improving. In the rural areas, we have included 20 major diseases such as childhood leukemia into the insurance scheme, and the financial burden of the public for medical services is significantly alleviated. In the meantime, the national essential medicine system has also been established in China.

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