By Abubakarr Harding
His Excellency Ambassador Wang Qing, the Chinese Ambassador to Sierra Leone, presided over a significant ceremony held, on the 1st September, 2023, at the Ministry of Health Conference Room. The event marked the commencement of a new outreach service tour for the Mobile Medical Clinics in Sierra Leone.
Among the distinguished guests present at the ceremony were Dr. Anthony Augustine Sandi, Deputy Minister of Health and Sanitation; the Permanent Secretary, Prince Cole and Dr. Yeabu Kargbo, the Medical Superintendent of Hospitals on Wheels Project, along with dedicated team members of the Hospitals on Wheels Project.
Ambassador Wang Qing expressed his delight at being invited to attend the ceremony, which initiated a groundbreaking tour for the Mobile Medical Clinics, aimed at delivering healthcare services to remote areas in Sierra Leone.
The Mobile Medical Clinics were graciously bestowed as gifts from His Excellency President Xi Jinping during the inaugural ceremony of President Julius Maada Bio in 2018.
In 2022, President Julius Maada Bio officially launched the “Hospitals on Wheels” project, which is based on these Mobile Clinics. Since its inception, with the strong leadership of the Ministry of Health (MOH), the relentless efforts of the operation team, local health departments, and the close collaboration between China and Sierra Leone, this project has evolved into the flagship program of MOH.
It also stands as a testament to the remarkable progress that can be achieved through collaboration. President Julius Maada Bio commended it as “one of the best initiatives Sierra Leone has ever had.”
Ambassador Wang Qing noted that the Mobile Clinics have traveled to 13 districts in Sierra Leone, serving more than 37,000 people, detecting severe cases, and saving lives, particularly among vulnerable populations such as infants, pregnant women, and the elderly who struggle to access quality healthcare.
The Mobile Clinics have not only improved health outcomes but have also supported crucial initiatives like the COVID-19 vaccination campaign and H.E First, Lady Fatima Bio’s free sanitary pads program. These accomplishments demonstrate the innovative and efficient solutions that Mobile Clinics can provide when integrated into the existing healthcare system.
Acknowledging the challenges faced by the project, Ambassador Wang Qing emphasized his Embassy’s unwavering commitment to its support. He announced a generous contribution of $20,000 USD to facilitate the Mobile Clinics’ future tours, in addition to a previous sponsorship of $100,000 USD. He also extended an invitation to the Chinese Medical Team to participate in the outreach tour, ensuring continuous technical support and cooperation with the MOH to expand the Mobile Clinics’ services further.
Ambassador Wang Qing underscored the significance of health and medical cooperation in the fruitful practical cooperation between China and Sierra Leone, spanning 52 years.
Sierra Leone holds a unique distinction as the only country to which China has dispatched three medical or public health teams. The year 2023 marks the 50th Anniversary of the dispatching of Chinese Medical Teams to Sierra Leone. Over the last five decades, these teams have treated over 800,000 patients, performed more than 100,000 surgeries, and trained over 5,000 local medical staff.
They have stood shoulder to shoulder with Sierra Leone in battling diseases such as Ebola, COVID-19, hepatitis, and cervical cancer, contributing to the well-being of the Sierra Leonean people and fostering conditions for social and economic development.
Ambassador Wang Qing concluded by highlighting the new opportunities for cooperation between China and Sierra Leone, with President Xi Jinping and President Julius Maada Bio reaffirming their commitment to enhancing mutual cooperation across various sectors. The Ambassador expressed confidence that closer collaboration in the health and medical sector, including the Mobile Clinics project, will strengthen the traditional friendship between the two nations and contribute to President Bio’s vision, particularly the Human Capital Development agenda. He emphasized that China’s ongoing medical and health cooperation will yield more fruitful results and benefit a greater number of Sierra Leonean citizens in the future.