Health and education beyond borders

Hassnain Javed

JULY 2, 2019

The New Silk Road aims to connect China’s grand route with Africa, Asia, and Europe through cyberspace and physical space, promising prosperity and innovation. One Belt, One Road, or Belt and Road, promises the construction of a massive $1 trillion infrastructure investment in the building of highways, dry and seaports, power plants, and state of the art telecommunication network. One Belt, One Road was been highly criticized for the wide flow of benefits mostly to China. Will the unprecedented influx of development financing improve the Human Development Index of people living along the belt.

China has fast changed its course of economic development within the turn of the century, from being a major recipient of Global Funds grant to a net provider of financial assistance. The World Bank has provided a total of $2.47 billion worth of low interest rate loans to the Chinese government. The financial assistance provided by China to middle income countries included medical training by Chinese doctors. Moreover, China has also been a provider of medical equipment and drugs, to these countries for building health facilities, and support malaria prevention. In 2014, after the breakout of the Ebola epidemic in Africa, china has played a key role in increasing health partnerships and health assistance as a part of China’s BRI development strategy. China has also signed a Memorandum of Understanding with World Health Organisation in efforts to strengthen ties with the UN. Furthermore, a new International Development Cooperation Agency (IDCA) for foreign aid coordination has been launched to organize all countries involved in BRI to approve a communique aiming to “synergize efforts in medical emergency response and epidemic prevention”.

Regarding education in 2015, the One Belt One road Initiative have launched the University Alliance of the Silk Road which is a collaboration of about 130 universities across five continents which is coordinated by the China’s Xian Jiaotong University. This cooperation across borders vision to develop an alliance among its members and encourage human development along the Belt and Road initiative in higher education. Furthermore, other member countries also have their universities campuses opened abroad, one such university is University of Xiamen in Malaysia and Soochow University, which has opened an office in Laos since 2011. These universities not only allow the flow of information technology and local skills across borders but also help in spreading job opportunities along the belt.

In 2018, the One Belt and One Road Initiative forum, President Xi Jinping announced China’s pledge to create 100 health projects for women and children in the developing world-a commitment to maternal and child health

Since the rapid growth in the population of China and widespread economic integration along the borders and beyond, the development of health in the region is the obvious next step towards moving forward. China now has a 95% population coverage of basic health insurance and has achieved a 40-fold increase of its total health expenditure (5.6%) over the past two decades. Previously China has also experienced a major epidemic outbreak in 2003 outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), which has instantly highlighted the need to keep the health as priority.The temporary economic shock by the SARS epidemic was respectively, 2.63% and 1.05% of GDP, mostly affecting the mainland China. This has called a need for advancing collaborative risk prevention and emergency response being placed by the Chinese government. A study on the SARS epidemic predicted that if the SARS epidemic recurred again today, the immediate costs for the global economy would jump up by over 70% compared to the case where the 2003.

In 2018, the One Belt and One Road Initiative forum, President Xi Jinping announced China’s pledge to create 100 health projects for women and children in the developing world-a commitment to maternal and child health. Furthermore,investment is being made in vaccine development and biomedical advances in collaboration with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The progress report has showed a whopping investment of 3 billion from 2000 and 2012, in 255 projects working on to curb the problems relating to health, population, and water and sanitation in Africa. In Bangladesh hospitals and malaria control centers have been invested in, providing anti-malarial treatment, and trained health care workers.

The Health Care system in China is very well organised by the health care insurance being accessible to 95% of the population, as mentioned above. However in Pakistan population per doctor and population per bed did not improve much over than previous year. Also the domestic pharmaceutical industry in China is much more stronger with 22 of all 25 being owned by the domestic. Therefore, CPEC can play a pivotal role in the development of healthcare in Pakistan. This is through the availability of cheap raw material to the manufacturers in Pakistan via the CPEC route.

In order to conclude, CPEC has also been a source of providing medical students in Pakistan, education facility in China. Almost 10,000 students have already been graduated and working in different fields.Also over 200,000 students from all over, the 64 countries in the OBOR have been getting education via government scholarship programs. However, Pakistani students have been the most in number, ranking at the top fourth of all international students in China. In order to facilitate the CPEC infrastructure in Gawadar, the Vice-Chairman of Chinese Red Cross Foundation Liu Xuanguo has plan to set up second emergency care in Quetta in Balochistan. In future, CPEC should facilitate the setup of new medical colleges and universities, state-of-the-art R&D labs and pharmacies along the CPEC. This will help enhance the medical skills of the professional doctors, pharmacists and other medical staff exchange programs can be initiated. In order to build a fully functional health and knowledge corridor, industry technicians from both the China and Pakistan will be needed to bring revolutionary changes in health sector.

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