By Amin Kef Sesay
A send-off party was held by the Chinese Embassy in Sierra Leone at the Freetown International Conference Center, Bintumani Hotel, on September 15, 2020, to bid farewell to the three Chinese Medical Expert Teams in Sierra Leone.
Present among the invited guests were the Minister of Defence and National Coordinator for COVID-19 Response Brig. (Rtd.) Kellie Conteh, the Minister of Health and Sanitation Professor Alpha Wurie, Dr. Housainou Taal, Country Representative of World Food Program, Deputy Ministers, members of Chinese Military Medical Expert Group, China CDC Expert Team and Chinese Medical Team in Sierra Leone,
During the event, the Minister of Defence and National Coordinator for COVID-19 Response Brig. (Rtd.) Kellie Conteh and the Minister of Health and Sanitation, Professor Alpha Wurie, spoke highly of the China-Sierra Leone health cooperation especially the mutual support in trying to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Ministers of Defence and Health thanked the Government and people of China for always being the first to provide help to Sierra Leone in hours of need.
Minister Wurie stated that thanks to China’s support, Sierra Leone was the first Member State of the Mano River Union to have the capability to conduct COVID-19 tests.
Minister of Defence furthered that were it not for the support China provided in the form of human capacity, equipment and supplies, Sierra Leone would not have made as much success in the fight against COVID-19 as it has registered at this point. They both spoke highly of the service offered by the three Chinese Medical Expert Teams in Sierra Leone.
H.E. Ambassador Hu Zhangliang said with the long-term support and cooperation of the Sierra Leonean Government and people, development partners, and friends from all walks of life, the public health cooperation between China and Sierra Leone has achieved remarkable results.
The Ambassador noted that at present, the COVID-19 pandemic is still ravaging the world, posing enormous threat to people’s lives and health as well as global public health security.
He maintained that during this difficult time, China and Sierra Leone have been firmly together adding how at the initial stage of China’s hard battle, H.E. President Julius Maada Bio sent a message to H.E. President Xi Jinping expressing sympathy and solidarity. The Parliament of Sierra Leone passed a special resolution and awarded a certificate of solidarity to the National People’s Congress of China.
Ambassador Hu Zhangliang highlighted that similarly, China provided swift assistance to Sierra Leone to support the latter’s fight against the pandemic even though China herself was faced with huge challenges and pressure.
He said so far the Chinese side has provided seven rounds of urgent donation to Sierra Leone. The donated items, he said, include PPEs, respirators, facial masks, medical gloves, ventilators, testing kits etc. “I’m glad to know that these most needed materials have been essential in enhancing Sierra Leone’s capabilities of combating the pandemic. The three Chinese medical teams in Sierra Leone have been working day and night with their local colleagues in case detection, patient treatment and technical training,” he informed the guests.
The Ambassador commended the notable achievements the Sierra Leonean Government and people made in the control of the pandemic under the staunch leadership of President Julius Maada Bio. He noted that China will continue to strengthen cooperation with Sierra Leone in all fields.
On behalf of the three Chinese Medical Expert Teams in Sierra Leone, Dr. Zhao Guangyu said that it is a big joy for the teams to provide support to this beautiful land and its people and that they are glad to contribute to the fight against the virus shoulder to shoulder with their local counterparts.
Up to mid-September, the three Chinese Medical Expert Teams have all together conducted 9,000 tests, participated in treating and rescuing over 270 patients and lives and organized trainings for 300 local staff.
In a subsequent event, led by the Chinese Ambassador to Sierra Leone, H.E. Hu Zhangliang, the Chinese Medical team on Wednesday 16th September, 2020 bade farewell to Vice President Dr. Mohamed Juldeh Jalloh.
The Ambassador informed the Hon. Vice President that after a year’s tour of duty the Chinese medical team will return to China.
Amb. Zhangliang assured VP Juldeh Jalloh of China’s continued support to Sierra Leone and the health sector. He stated that the team which arrived in Sierra Leone in June 2019 should have returned home this June but stayed to help the country fight the COVID-19 pandemic.
In his response, Vice President Dr. Mohamed Juldeh Jalloh thanked the team on behalf of President Bio for their service to Sierra Leone, their support to the military and the health sector. He wished them well in their new endeavor.
Being here, he noted, is critical of Sierra Leone-China relationship as the support is of vital importance to human capital development in the areas of education, health and agriculture; especially in the health sector.