Sierra Leone’s President Julius Maada Bio on Thursday inaugurated a Chinese funded infectious disease center.The center, to be run jointly by Chinese and Sierra Leone officials, is located at the 34 Military Hospital in Freetown. And it will be the country’s premier center for tropical infectious disease prevention and control.
The completion of the facility culminates in the institution of a Joint Medical Unit with the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces (RSLAF), which is running the facility.
The center, which will be used to study tropical infectious diseases, is the first that China’s military – the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) – has built in Africa, according to Chinese officials.
They said it will be the base of Chinese medical cooperation with Sierra Leone which took a leap following the outbreak of the West African Ebola Virus Disease in 2014. Nearly 30,000 people died in that epidemic, mostly in Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia.
China was one of the first foreign countries to intervene to contain the disease.
The Chinese military was instrumental in the efforts.
The idea of a center for disease control was born out of that experience.
The center will serve mainly the purpose of improving local capabilities in preventing and treating large-scale infectious disease outbreaks like Ebola.
President Bio thanked the Chinese Government for its continued support to Sierra Leone, noting that not only will the new facility help in managing any infectious disease outbreak, but also be crucial for the entire health sector in the country.
“The project now commissioned will not only strengthen the relationship between the two countries but will also serve as a major boost to our health delivery infrastructure, which is critical in the delivery of the human development portfolio in the New Direction.
This is with the conviction that good health care is imperative for increased productivity in agriculture, improved learning and teaching, child survival and development, reduce child mortality and increase investment considerably,” President Bio said in a statement after officially inaugurating the facility.