Prospects are bright for health cooperation among BRICS nations as they work to help their combined population of 3 billion people, China’s top health official told health ministers from the group at a major gathering in Tianjin in July.
Over the past seven years, health cooperation among the five countries has become more extensive, Li Bin, minister of China’s Health and Family Planning Commission, said at the BRICS Health Ministers Meeting.
The first such gathering, which marked the beginning of BRICS health cooperation, was held in July 2011 in Beijing. Since then, cooperation has expanded and intensified, Li said.
During this year’s meeting, the BRICS nations－Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa－pledged to intensify the integration of traditional Chinese medicine in their national healthcare systems to improve healthcare services.
The meeting has been held annually, rotating among the five countries.
The BRICS countries selected priority areas for cooperation at each of the past six meetings, including intensifying health monitoring; conducting research on tuberculosis, AIDS and malaria; and researching new drugs, according to the National Health and Family Planning Commission.
“Diseases do not stop at borders,” Vice-Premier Liu Yandong said at this year’s meeting. “The BRICS countries have established high-level dialogues to cope with common health challenges and promote health cooperation.”
She noted that member countries have contributed to more than 50 percent of the world’s total economic growth over the past decade.
In the same period, the countries have extended their health cooperation from traditional areas－including disease monitoring, prevention and control－to new areas such as digital healthcare, she said.
The five countries have also actively promoted health cooperation with other nations.
For example, China has been sending medical experts to other developing countries to provide healthcare services, and has provided assistance to Africa in building disease control and prevention systems, she said.
“Facing severe health challenges complicated by problems such as accelerated population aging and the increasing number of cross-border immigrants, the international society needs to work together to promote universal health,” Liu said.
“China is looking forward to working with other BRICS nations to promote health cooperation that will benefit more people.”