World / US and Canada

China, US team up on Ebola

By DONG LESHUO in Bethesda ( Updated: 2015-06-25 13:02

The war on Ebola is heating up.

A Memorandum of Understanding for the Collaborative Program on Emerging and Re-emerging Infectious Diseases was signed by the US Department of Health and Human Services and the National Health and Family Planning Commission of China at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland on Wednesday.

The purpose of the agreement is to promote closer cooperation, scientific discovery, capacity building and exchange of information in the field of infectious diseases.

"It's about putting our ideas and intentions into action and making them count," said Sylvia M. Burwell, secretary of Health and Human Services.

"China and the US are having more and more common interests in maintaining global health security and responding to emerging infectious diseases, and taking on more of a shared responsibility. It meets the expectations of the international community that China and US work hand-in-hand on healthcare issues," said Liu Yandong, vice-premier of China.

Emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases have become greater threats to human and animal health in an ever increasing global commerce and travel environment. The recent Ebola virus outbreak in West Africa was unprecedented in both its scale and impact.

China has been active in responding to emerging infectious diseases. In 2014, when Ebola broke-out in West Africa, China initiated a large-scale medical assistance effort. To date, China has sent more than 1,000 medical professionals to West Africa, according to Liu.

The scale and duration of the recent Ebola outbreak in West Africa has been unprecedented, claiming more than 10,000 lives. Thanks to extraordinary coordinated efforts in the affected countries, the outbreak seems to be coming under control.

There remains a need for an effective Ebola vaccine to prevent future pandemics, according to a statement by Anthony S. Fauci, director of National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases on May 7.

"I want to thank you, vice-premier Liu, for China's important contributions to the Ebola response," Burwell said.

An important part of the response was the close partnership on the ground in West Africa between the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Chinese CDC, sharing surveillance, and other epidemiology information, undertaking research and managing local reporting, according to Burwell.

"Our borders will not stop diseases, the global threats require collaborative responses, and our global health community needs global health solutions," Burwell said.

"NIH supports about 42 research programs that involve US and China collaborations and host more than 753 Chinese post-doctors and scientists to come here doing research in our laboratories," said Francis Collins, director of NIH.

"I hope today's events will elevate and expand our partnerships," Burwell said.

It is the first time that healthcare is part of the US-China High-Level Consultation on People-to-People Exchange (CPE), according to Liu. The CPE aims to enhance and strengthen ties between the citizens of the United States and China and has done so over the past five years in the areas of culture, education, science and technology, sports, youth and women's issues and health.


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