Chinese health officials stress rapid response at WHA

2023-05-26 Editor : Li Yan ECNS App Download

China is willing to promote global cooperation in boosting epidemic response capability and tackling antimicrobial resistance, health officials said during the 76th World Health Assembly held in Geneva, Switzerland.

"The Chinese government is willing to offer necessary support, including personnel, technologies and funds, to help the World Health Organization cope with international public health emergencies," said Hu Guang, an official with the National Administration of Disease Prevention and Control and a member of the Chinese delegation attending the event.

The WHO is expected to coordinate strengthened efforts from developed countries to provide assistance to developing countries, such as enhancing personnel training, technology transfer and medical aid to step up developing economies' capacity in handling pandemic and manufacturing relevant materials, Hu said during an interview with Health Times, a newspaper administered by the National Health Commission, China's top health authority.

The assembly, which runs from May 21 to 30 this year, is an annual event led by the World Health Organization.

As negotiations for drafting a global pandemic treaty are underway, Hu said the new accord should focus on practical needs of developing countries and reflect principles of fairness, solidarity, consensus and inclusiveness.

China supports establishing a WHO Pathogen Access and Benefit Sharing System, and has expressed hope treaties in the pipeline could prioritize the interests of countries who supply samples and dedicate more resources into developing vaccines and other products to rein in pandemics.

Li Dachuan, deputy director of the commission's medical administration department, said during a meeting of the assembly China's use of antibiotics has improved continuously over the years and it has achieved progress in developing new infection drugs.

The WHO has stated without immediate action to curb antimicrobial resistance, the number of related deaths will likely register a spike, incurring hefty public health burdens and plunging many people into impoverishment, especially those in low-income countries.

Li thus called for ramping up global cooperation and communication in this area. "China is willing to fully cooperate with other countries in devising control strategies, drafting technical guidelines, formulating monitoring systems and developing new drugs and technologies, and join efforts to cope with challenges brought by antimicrobial resistance," he said.

Chinese health officials have also shared their experiences in preventing and controlling non-infectious diseases and achieving universal health coverage during the assembly.

Guo Yanhong, director of the commission's medical emergency response department, said the rate of premature deaths from major chronic illnesses in China had dropped from 18.5 percent in 2015 to 15.3 percent in 2021 thanks to comprehensive efforts, such as rolling out early diagnosis and treatment programs for cancer and screening high-risk groups for severe lung disease.

"Countries with sufficient resources are suggested to devote efforts to rein in risk factors associated with non-infectious diseases such as tobacco and alcohol use, unhealthy diets and lack of exercise," she said. "China is willing to provide targeted advice for less-developed countries and regions."

Zhuang Ning, deputy director of the commission's healthcare reform department, said 90 percent of urban and rural families in China can reach the nearest medical facility within 15 minutes and government expenditures on healthcare had rose from 843.2 billion yuan in 2012 to 2.07 trillion in 2021.

More efforts are being made to deploy digital technologies to bring high-quality healthcare services to poor counties and rural clinics, Zhuang said.

"It takes time to expand medical capacity. We suggest using innovative tools, such as digital technologies, to boost access to medical services," he said.


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