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Nations pledge to work more closely in fight against diseases

Li Yingqing and Wang Xiaodong
Updated: Dec 14,2015 7:34 AM     China Daily

China pledged more intensified cooperation with Bangladesh, India and Myanmar to cope with the spread of infectious diseases over their borders at the first forum on disease control and prevention between the four countries that concluded on Dec 12.

The forum was held in Mangshi, a city in southwest China’s Yunnan province, which shares borders with Myanmar, a country with one of the highest rates of HIV in Asia. Yunnan is one of China’s less-developed areas and also one of the worst-hit by the disease. The border areas of the four countries are also areas with higher incidence of infectious diseases such as malaria, tuberculosis and cholera.

Reports in June said that Chinese scientists in Yunnan had discovered a new strain of HIV with a complex structure. The strain derived from a blood sample of a Myanmar truck driver traveling across the Myanmar-China border in Yunnan, according to researchers at the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

China, Bangladesh, India and Myanmar are all developing countries with geographic proximity, and they cannot defeat threats caused by transborder infectious diseases alone, Gao Feng, deputy governor of Yunnan province, said at the opening ceremony of the forum on Dec 11.

“The purpose of the forum is to improve communication and cooperation mechanisms on health and disease control and prevention between the four countries and improve their ability to jointly cope with public health threats,” he said.

The forum was followed by a four day training session from Dec 13 to Dec 16 provided by Chinese health experts on the prevention and control of infectious diseases such as malaria, tuberculosis, hepatitis and AIDS. About 200 grassroots health workers from the four countries are attending the training.

The number of people in Yunnan living with HIV/AIDS exceeded 87,000 as the end of October, ranking at the top in China, and more than 90 percent of the new cases reported this year were transmitted through sex, according to Yunnan’s Bureau on HIV/AIDS Control and Prevention.

The number of HIV cases among foreigners living or working in Yunnan’s border areas has also continued to increase in recent years, the bureau said.

The population of China, India, Bangladesh and Myanmar accounts for nearly half of the world’s total population, and it’s urgent to improve prevention and control of infectious diseases across their borders, said You Jing, a professor of infectious diseases at Kunming Medical University.

The countries should increase cooperation, including in healthcare education, research and in disease prevention and control, to increase their ability to fight infectious diseases, she said.