LILONGWE, Sept. 14 (Xinhua) -- China sent the first batch of a medical team consisting of 19 specialists to Malawi six months after the two countries established diplomatic relations in December 2007, which has started a long tradition of support that China has maintained to the sub-Saharan developing country.
So far, China has dispatched 10 batches of medical teams to Malawi, with a total of 170 people, treating more than 200,000 patients. The Chinese medical team has always been helpful in the areas of capacity building, clinical services, and provision of medical equipment and supplies.
"When the first medical team came to Malawi 15 years ago, our health system did not have enough clinical specialists as we have now," explained Jonathan Ngoma, director of Kamuzu Central Hospital (KCH), one of the two referral health facilities that the Chinese medical team supports in Malawi.
"The (local) college of medicine at that time had not started producing their own specialists and, at that time, the current crop of senior specialists had gone to South Africa for their post-graduate studies," said Ngoma, as China celebrated 60 years of sending medical teams to the world and 15 years to Malawi, on Sept. 8 at the Chinese Embassy in Lilongwe, the capital of Malawi.
According to Ngoma, the deployment of the Chinese medical team to Malawi continues to strengthen the country's health system, enabling it to remain resilient to a number of challenges.
"Over the years, the Chinese medical team's specialists have helped in various areas, and during the period we've had interaction with the Chinese medical team, some of our team members have had attachments in China where they went to a college in Beijing," explained the KCH director.
The other area that Malawi remains grateful for the support of the Chinese medical team is new equipment and medical supplies that each batch comes with to the two referral health facilities, namely, the KCH in Lilongwe, and Mzuzu Central Hospital (MCH) in the northern region of Malawi.
In the wake of COVID-19 in Malawi, for instance, China was the first to donate various equipment and supplies to Malawi to strengthen the country's health system in fighting the pandemic.
On this year's International Children's Day, Chinese Ambassador to Malawi Long Zhou, and Malawian First Lady Monica Chakwera launched the "China-Africa Hand in Hand to Warm Children's Hearts" at the Home of Hope, an institution in Malawi's western border district of Mchinji. Through the campaign, the 10th batch of the Chinese medical team in Malawi provided free medical consultations to more than 300 children at the Home of Hope.
Wang Hao, the Chinese charge d'affaires to Malawi, described the medical and health field as a "key area of cooperation" between the two countries.
Wang's assurance during the commemoration last week was that China would continue to support Malawi's health system for the good health of the citizenry.
"The Chinese government will continue to dispatch medical teams to Malawi, implement the paired hospital cooperation mechanism projects, and promote deeper and more practical cooperation in the medical and health field under the framework of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation," he said. "We hope to continue to promote health and welfare for the Malawians, and write a new chapter in our friendship." ■