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WHO head sees health benefits unfolding that will help planet

By Shan Juan | China Daily | Updated: 2017-05-15 06:52

Margaret Chan, director-general of the World Health Organization, sees the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation as a chance to promote joint work by the WHO and China that will in turn benefit countries involved in the Belt and Road Initiative.

WHO head sees health benefits unfolding that will help planet

Margaret Chan, director-general of the WHO

In January, at WHO headquarters in Geneva, President Xi Jinping witnessed the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the WHO and China on their joint work.

That was the fruit of a highly successful partnership between the two working on global health, Chan said. China's help included sending 1,200 medical workers to West Africa in 2014 in response to the Ebola crisis, contributing to WHO efforts to distribute medical supplies in Syria and playing a role in the newly created WHO Emergency Medical Teams, which aim at ensuring more flexible and rapid responses to disease outbreaks and disasters, she said.

The countries involved in the Belt and Road Initiative include some WHO member states in which poor public health limits the potential for economic growth, and some in which new growth could strain their ability to prevent and control diseases and provide basic health services, she said.

"Having many of those state leaders here, this weekend in Beijing, is an opportunity for us to put detailed proposals on the table and get member states' support for cooperation."

Chan became WHO director general in 2007 and is due to step down in July, when she will return to Hong Kong to live, she said.

At the forum, she said, the WHO looks forward to working with its member states involved in the Belt and Road corridor to find ways to bring health issues to bear in their economic growth strategies and decision-making, and supporting the expanded delivery of health services and disease prevention and control services.

China has demonstrated strong, sustained political leadership that is essential to helping ensure strong global collaboration on health so emerging health problems can be dealt with, she said.

Globalization and global economic development have produced unprecedented economic gains and facilitated the movement of people and goods across borders, she said, but this has been accompanied by the transmission of diseases and viruses. Pressures have increased on national health systems to prevent and control disease outbreaks, ensure adequate health services for increasingly urbanized populations and ensure access to medicines and treatment for the poor, she said.

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