With high tensions and erosion of trust between the United States and China, seeking new avenues of bilateral cooperation may seem futile. In times like these, it can be even more important to maintain open lines of communication and identify common goals.
One area where Washington and Beijing may find common ground is support for African public health systems, particularly the African Union’s (AU) project to develop the African Medicines Agency (AMA).
The African Union Agreement In the year To launch the AMA in 2019 to provide regulatory oversight to facilitate access to quality, safe, effective and affordable medicines for African citizens.
Despite the US and China’s rivalry in Africa, the US-China cooperation on the African Medicines Agency would not be the first time that superpowers in conflict have made progress on global health.
In 1958, at the height of the Cold War, the Soviet Union They called for an international effort. To destroy smallpox. In the year In 1966, the US took up the cause and the US and the Soviet Union – with the support of 58 other member states – supported it. A decision At the 19th annual meeting of the World Health Organization, he conducted the world’s most successful campaign to eradicate infectious disease.
The USSR and the US went further, successfully exchanging scientific information and Constructive criticism in areas other than smallpox. The US surgeon general has pointed to deficiencies in Soviet overseas vaccine production facilities, prompting Moscow to make drastic reforms to its vaccine programs abroad.
Despite current tensions, the United States and China have historically had a constructive relationship on public health. America played. An important role Assisting China in establishing the China Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, including specialists from the US CDC in China’s China Agency.
Both countries have invested heavily in supporting African countries’ efforts to improve their own public health systems. The spectacularly successful US President’s Emergency Program for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) has curbed the HIV epidemic in Africa, and Beijing has launched its own “Health silk road” programs that loaded hospitals and recently, Distributed vaccines and other Covid-related material across Africa.
The US played a Leading role When the African Center for Disease Control and Prevention, which is now based in Ethiopia, was established. China provided the agency’s headquarters.
AMA is the logical next step and AU’s priority.
The US may invite or challenge China to join US efforts to support the AMA. The countries may come together to the AU to identify specific projects. Washington and Beijing have pledged to help each African nation develop domestic vaccine production capabilities to avoid being shut out of global health solutions again when the next pandemic hits. The United States and China may support a resolution at the next World Health Assembly urging other countries to join the effort.
We should not take the challenges lightly. The US and China compete in Africa, including over public health. We should not assume that China will accept the invitation or that the terms of cooperation will be easily agreed. One of the authors served as the US ambassador to Zambia And they offered cooperation to the Chinese counterpart on the health projects there, the Chinese ambassador politely refused. And there was some US-China Africa CDC collaboration. Problematic.
In addition, throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the US and China have clearly neglected public health. China’s suspension of investigation into the origins of the coronavirus has eroded Beijing’s international credibility, and former President Trump was aggressive. Name-calling The tensions escalated further when the leaders of both countries engaged in an ugly publicity war.
But Covid-19 is an urgent reminder of our collective need to enable countries in far-flung countries to conduct effective surveillance of disease outbreaks and, where possible, respond with local resources. It is in the interest of the United States and China to strengthen those capabilities, including in Africa, where there are many opportunities for improvement.
The US and China have different but complementary strategies to support African health systems. US emphasizes technical assistance; China provides health infrastructure and goods.
If both take a constructive approach, US-China cooperation can improve public health capacity in Africa in line with African Union priorities. A constructive U.S.-China partnership could boost international trust in both countries and strengthen America’s recent position on the continent. It is indicated. China could use its own public health assistance in Africa in cooperation with the US to make it more responsive to the needs of Africans. countries themselves.
US Foreign Minister Anthony Blinken “The United States’ relationship with China will be competitive where possible, cooperative where possible, and adversarial where it must be,” he said.
Tensions between the world’s two superpowers remain high. But collaborative health projects in Africa can build bridges, advance common goals and strengthen African countries’ health systems, ultimately benefiting the safety and well-being of the entire global community.
Georgia Nichols has worked to combat human trafficking in Senegal, is a fellow in the Department of African Languages and a master’s degree candidate in international affairs. Frederick S. Pardee School International Studies at Boston University.
Mark C. Storla is Professor of the Practice of Diplomacy and Director of the Center for African Studies at the Frederick S. Pardee School of International Studies at Boston University. Storla is the former US ambassador to Zambia and served as a US diplomat for three decades.