Chinese engagement propels anti-COVID-19 efforts in Ethiopia

International Exchanges

Mikias Legesse, a medical doctor fighting the COVID-19 pandemic on the frontline in Ethiopia, spoke highly of the life-saving material and experience-sharing supports he and his fellow physicians garnered from their Chinese counterparts in the fight against the virus.

XinhuaUpdated: August 19, 2020

Mikias Legesse, a medical doctor fighting the COVID-19 pandemic on the frontline in Ethiopia, spoke highly of the life-saving material and experience-sharing supports he and his fellow physicians garnered from their Chinese counterparts in the fight against the virus.

Legesse, who is presently working as COVID-19 Isolation Ward Coordinator at the Tirunesh-Beijing Hospital -- also known as the Ethio-China Friendship Hospital, located in Akaki neighborhood on the outskirts of Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa, has been actively fighting the COVID-19 pandemic alongside members of the 21st batch of the Chinese medical team in Ethiopia, constituting 16 medical professionals who have specialized in various fields.

"We are lucky because we are the only hospital in Ethiopia that has the Chinese medical team at the moment," Legesse told Xinhua on Monday, as he emphasized the Chinese medical team's "immense contribution" in preparing the hospital and its community against the menace of COVID-19 even before the first case of virus was reported in the East African country on March 13.

"We have been preparing as much as possible, and the China medical team has been a great help in this regard," said Legesse, adding that "they have been supplying us with protective PPE materials and other sorts of help."

Legesse, recalling the 12-member Chinese anti-pandemic experts' team that was dispatched in Ethiopia on April 16 to help the country's fight against the virus during the early days of the pandemic, also stressed that the Chinese anti-pandemic experts "have given us lectures, materials and to study from them and that was also a great help to us."

"The team members that came from Sichuan shared their experience in detail and we were amazed in their level of action because they controlled the virus very well. We take their experience and translated it into our setup," the young medical doctor added.

Noting that the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic could "become very challenging because we are seeing the number of positive patients from our hospitals increasing daily," Legesse also emphasized the commitment among Ethiopian and Chinese medical experts at the Tirunesh-Beijing Hospital in terms of strengthening their joint efforts in the fight against the infectious virus.

As of Monday morning, the number of COVID-19 cases in Ethiopia has risen to 29,876 as the death toll due to illnesses related to the virus surged to 528, according to the Ethiopian Ministry of Health.

According to Jibril Abas, CEO of Tirunesh Beijing Hospital, the Ethio-China Friendship Hospital, which has so far reported about 50 COVID-19 positive cases, is one of the least COVID-19 affected hospitals in Addis Ababa, mainly due to the successful partnership among the Chinese and local medical experts, both in terms of preparation before the outbreak as well as joint response efforts.

"The first case detected almost five months back. The first thing we did was discuss with the Chinese medical team, as we have affiliations with hospitals in China, so they provided us with orientation on the ongoing novel coronavirus at the time," Abas told Xinhua on Monday.

The hospital, which established a taskforce to oversee COVID-19 prevention activities during the early stage of the outbreak based on the recommendations and findings provided by the Chinese experts, has been also receiving "huge amount of support from the Chinese medical team and the Chinese government," the CEO said, adding that "we are very grateful for that."

The support from the Chinese medical team and the Chinese government ranges from early advice on COVID-19 prevention, screening patients and staff all the way to the provision of thermometers, personal protective equipment (PPE) as well as various other materials to screen the patients and staff, according to Abas.

"We have received three rounds of PPE from the Chinese government, and we are expecting another round soon," Abas said, adding that "without PPE we would have had huge number of COVID-19 positive cases especially among our staff."

Noting that the Tirunesh-Beijing Hospital was built "entirely with funds and construction companies which were assigned by the Chinese government," Abas also stressed that members of the 21st batch of Chinese medical team "are highly educated and highly specialized professionals, which we wouldn't have had otherwise."

"The support is ongoing. The friendship is a real thing, you see it on the ground," the CEO affirmed.

The 16-member 21st batch of Chinese medical team in Ethiopia, which is now in the East African country for about one and a half year period, showed their commitment to serving Ethiopians by staying put in the country even after their duty ended, pursuing their service as the country faced with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Wang Chun Yu, team leader of 21st Batch of the China Medical Team in Ethiopia, who is a neurologist in profession, stressed that even though the team members didn't have experience in fighting against the virus, "all the medical team members started very hard on the techniques and medical knowledge about the virus."

After enabling themselves against the COVID-19 with help from the Chinese experience against the virus, the Chinese medical team members then trained the staff and medical staff of the Tirunesh-Beijing Hospital in fighting against the virus as well as precautionary measures when dealing with their patients.

In addition to the donation of three batches of much-needed medical supplies to the hospital, the Chinese medical team also introduced Chinese experience on fighting against the virus and trained the medical staff on preventing the virus.

"We never stop even under very serious epidemic consideration. Even though we are in the face of very dangerous situation, our medical team members never fear to go to the frontline to help the patients and to consult them," Wang told Xinhua.