Dr. Dong Xiaoping, Director of China CDC, noted at the launching ceremony that the project would support national surveillance and early warning of emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases in Sierra Leone by detecting Ebola, Dengue Fever, Yellow Fever, Zika and Lassa fever and other similar diseases.
He said they would achieve the above by providing technical support in disease surveillance system establishment with preparedness and response to public health emergencies.
He said the expected outcomes of the project was to recognize epidemic and pathogenic feature of the fatal infectious diseases in the Western Area District and to enhance the capacity of local staff, both in clinical and public health, in the identification, diagnosis, treatment and prevention of infectious diseases in the country.
In line with the capacity building for local staff in the area of laboratory practice and disease surveillance, Dr. Dong revealed that China has already dispatched 60 Chinese experts to Sierra Leone and that there would a training opportunity for 30 Sierra Leonean public health professionals that would further recommend outstanding local staff to further study in China.
The World Health Organization (WHO) representative, Dr. Charles Njuguna, commended the Chinese CDC team for the project, noting that the result of the project was seen at China-Sierra Leone Friendship Hospital at Jui.
He pointed out that the laboratory at Jui offers treatment that were not available in the country and that the lab has given resilience to laboratory system in the country.
He said WHO has been challenged by the prevalence of malaria and Hepatitis B in the country, but that they were happy that the Chinese CDC was now helping in that direction.
He noted that the water surveillance system also captured under the project was very much good for environmental health.
Chinese Ambassador to Sierra Leone, WU Peng, highlighted that disease control was very much important as the recent Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo has posed serious threat to not only Congo’s economic development as a country, but also the entire Africa continent.
Ambassador WU said the Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone affected striving and stable economic growth to a complete breakdown, and that the disease was only defeated through a collaborated effort from the international community and Sierra Leone.
He said disease control was very good for socioeconomic development and that he has confidence in the new administration of President Bio that they would continue to prioritize the issue of disease control and win in that direction.
The ambassador noted that the medical lab at Jui belongs to Sierra Leone because it has been handed over to the Ministry of Health and that they would continue to support capacity improvement of local staff for the future operation of the lab.
He expressed hope that by 2020 Sierra Leone would be able to run the laboratory system by allocating funds for its operation.
He concluded that China has always had the health Sierra Leoneans in mind and that they would continue to stand ready to help the country build an excellent medical team.
Deputy Minister of Health & Sanitation, Dr. Anthony Augustine Sandi, said the friendship between Sierra Leone and China has benefited both nations and that China has made significant contributions to improving Sierra Leone’s health sector.
He said the management of the Jui hospital, flying in health experts to work with local staff, and providing medical scholarship in various fields, has been very visible.
He noted that the project resonates with President Bio’s agenda on health under the New Direction, adding that the former’s inaugural speech emphasized the need to improve surveillance system for the prevention of viral diseases outbreak.