By Foday Moriba Conteh
During a well-attended ceremony held on Monday 29th May, 2023, the Chinese Embassy in Sierra Leone has bid farewell to the 6th Chinese Military Medical Expert Group to Sierra Leone. The ceremony was held at the Chinese Embassy in Sierra Leone on Super Loop in Freetown.
Addressing the audience at the Chinese Embassy in Sierra Leone, Wang Qing, said that the 6th Chinese Military Medical Expert Group was dispatched to Sierra Leone in February 2022 to enhance military medical cooperation between the two countries.
He added that the cooperation dates back to 2015, when the Chinese side came to help Sierra Leone in combating Ebola and that all the members of the Chinese Military Medical Expert Group are carefully selected from the People’s Liberation Army of China of which he said they have proven with solid actions that they love Sierra Leone and they are serious with their lofty mission here.
The Ambassador noted that over the past year they have been working side by side with their Sierra Leonean counterparts at the Tropical Infectious Diseases Prevention and Control Center (IDPC) at the 34 Military Hospital and have exerted immense efforts in helping the Sierra Leonean side screen, prevent and control all kinds of epidemics and they have exchanged experience and expertise with the Sierra Leonean colleagues by discussing difficult cases and providing guidance to technicians.
“They have worked with University of Sierra Leone, Njala University, Connaught Hospital, handling eight thousand samples from all over the country, and gave a thorough detection on eight kinds of infectious diseases in Sierra Leone. In particular, they identified anthrax last year and immediately informed the Sierra Leonean Government which responded swiftly to control the spread of this dreadful disease,” he maintained.
Wang Qing noted that their dedication and hard work vividly demonstrate the genuine friendship between China and Sierra Leone and they have endeavored to contribute to the building of an even stronger China-Africa Community with a Shared Future proposed by H.E. President Xi Jinping and supported by Sierra Leone, furthering the two armed forces are peace-loving armies with fraternal ties and that over the years, we have carried out fruitful cooperation in various fields including but not limited to medical and healthcare, utilities construction, equipment supply, personnel training, etc.
He revealed that since the establishment of our diplomatic relations in 1971, China-Sierra Leone relations have reached an all-time high level and become a model for China-Africa relations and South-South Cooperation with their relations based on mutual respect, equality, mutual trust, mutual support and win-win cooperation grown even stronger.
“Under the important consensus reached by President Xi Jinping and President Bio, we will continue to enhance the mutual understanding of our two peoples, deepen the traditional friendship between the two countries, and push forward the China-Sierra Leone friendship and cooperation to a new level, bringing more benefits to the people of both countries,” the Ambassador concluded.
The Deputy Minister of Defence, Col. (Rtd) Muana Massaquoi, spoke about the long standing relationship between Sierra Leone and China which he described as a fruitful one.
He also spoke about China’s direct supports to Sierra Leone such as Youyi building, National Stadium, the Foreign Service Academy among others and the immense contribution of Chinese companies to the Sierra Leonean economy, a state of art infection disease facility for the country during Ebola and the provision of the Chinese military expert group from the People’s Liberation Army.
According to the Deputy Minister, each group has left a mark on Sierra Leone’s health system and went beyond their mandate by reaching out to other crisis such as the anthrax disease in 2022.
He assured the Ambassador and team that their collaboration will continue to be strengthened and stand the test of time.
Col. (Rtd) Muana Massaquoi ended with a Chinese proverb which says “Old friends and old wine are best, everything is new but not friendship.”
The Leader of 6th Chinese Military Medical Expert Group to Sierra Leone, Mi Zhiqiang, disclosed that they have spent 14 months in Sierra Leone and upgraded health software systems for the country.
He spoke about the joint effort they have and how they enjoy working with the Sierra Leone military team. Mi Zhiqiang thanked them for their support and for making their mission successful.
The Chief of Defence Staff, Lieutenant General Peter Lavahun, Commanding Officer of the Joint Medical Unit, Dr. Stephen Sevalie, gave the vote of thanks at the ceremony which was followed by presentation of Certificates to members of 6th Chinese Military Medical Expert Group to Sierra Leone.