President Dr. Julius Maada Bio warmly received the 24th Chinese Medical Team on Tuesday, December 19, 2023, acknowledging their pivotal role in the country’s successful battle against COVID-19.
Minister of Health, Dr. Austin Demby, presented Ambassador Wang Qing of the People’s Republic of China and the medical team to the President. Dr. Demby highlighted China’s enduring support, emphasizing the 60-year history of the Chinese government sending medical aid globally, with Sierra Leone benefiting from this benevolence for 50 years.
His Excellency expressed delight at the extensive support from the People’s Republic of China since 1973, detailing the significant impact: 24 medical teams dispatched, treating over 1 million people, performing 200,000 surgeries, and training 5,000 health workers in Sierra Leone.
President Bio vividly recounted the initial challenges faced during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, citing the limited medical infrastructure with only a 30-bed treatment center at the 34 Military Hospital—a facility donated by the Chinese Government. He acknowledged China’s swift response, being among the first to provide COVID-19 vaccines and medical equipment to Sierra Leone.
Expressing enduring gratitude, President Bio emphasized the depth of the longstanding friendship between Sierra Leone and China, spanning over half a century. He assured that Sierra Leone values this enduring bilateral relationship.
In extending a warm welcome to the 24th Chinese Medical Team, President Bio expressed hope that the current cohort, including the 7th Chinese Military Expert Medical Group and the 8th China CDC Biosafety Lab Expert, would carry back fond memories of Sierra Leone’s beauty and its hospitable populace.
Furthermore, President Bio commended China for its exceptional 50-year commitment to medical charity in Sierra Leone, on behalf of the government and its citizens.
Ambassador Wang, leading the Chinese delegation, highlighted 2023 as a significant milestone, marking the 50th anniversary of China’s dispatching of medical teams to Sierra Leone. He emphasized the substantial impact of this long-standing relationship in enhancing the country’s public health infrastructure, including the construction of health facilities, health worker training, and the provision of medical equipment.
The President and Ambassador Wang echoed mutual appreciation for the enduring cooperation and emphasized the significant strides achieved in bolstering Sierra Leone’s healthcare system through this longstanding partnership.