As a sign of increasing military and civilian cooperation between the two countries, a military medical teleconference between the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) and the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) was held on Friday 8 May in order to promote the capability of COVID-19 prevention and control of the SANDF.
The attendees on behalf of China were Major General Shang Hong (Chinese Defence Attaché at the Chinese Embassy in South Africa), Senior Colonel Xu Qingeng (Deputy Chief of the Medical Service Directorate of the Logistic Support Department of Central Military Commission) and seven Chinese military medical experts based in Beijing and Hangzhou.
South Africa was represented by Lieutenant General Lindile Yam (SANDF Chief of Staff), Lieutenant General Zola Dabula (SANDF Surgeon General) and members of the South African Military Health Service (SAMHS) based at 1 Military Hospital (Pretoria), 2 Military Hospital (Cape Town) and 3 Military Hospital (Bloemfontein).
Having just completed anti-COVID-19 operations in Wuhan, the Chinese shared their experience and suggestions in fighting the virus, such as infection control, respiratory, nephrology, sterilization, critical care and germ and epidemic research.
The Chinese experts covered subjects such as Treatment of COVID-19 patients and Analysis of Important Cases, Management and Control of COVID-19 in Hospitals and COVID-19 Testing Technology and Methods.
Both sides also took the opportunity to discuss vaccine development, asymptomatic patient examination, anti-COVID-19 medication, the usage and sensitivity of testing kits and disinfecting materials.
The SANDF is the first partner in Africa to partake in a military medical cooperation teleconference with the Chinese PLA, demonstrating the increasing comprehensive strategic partnership and special friendship between China and South Africa and the two militaries.
Major General Shang Hong mentioned in the meeting: “The virus respects no borders and nationalities; solidarity and cooperation are the most powerful weapons to overcome the COVID-19 for the international community. Now the epidemic situation in South Africa is becoming serious and posing a grave threat to people’s lives and health. China will firmly support South Africa’s effort in fighting COVID-19 and is prepared to help where we can.”
On behalf of the Chief of the SANDF General Solly Shoke, Lieutenant General Yam expressed his appreciation to the Chinese experts for sharing their experience and also for the PLA’s support amid COVID-19 by the provision of Personal Protection Equipment.
Surgeon General Dabula noted that the Chinese solution against COVID-19 was meaningful to the SANDF and that the PLA and SANDF should keep close contacts by such kinds of communications and fight against COVID-19 with joint efforts.
The two militaries will further develop their partnership in the military medical area to make sure both the SANDF and the PLA are able to contribute more to the respective nation’s efforts to control the virus.