Canada and China have had a long-standing cooperative relationship in the field of health since the days of Dr. Norman Bethune. The reiteration of health as one of the pillars for strategic cooperation in the December 2009 Canada-China Joint Statement, on the occasion of Prime Minister Harper’s visit to China, provided further impetus to collaborative work in this area.
In 1995, the health ministers of Canada and China signed a Memorandum of Understanding for cooperation in the field of health between the two countries. This has since been reinforced by four Plans of Actions (for the periods 2001-2004, 2005-2008, 2009-2011, and 2011-2014) signed by health ministers. A Canada-China Joint Committee on Health was established in 2007, and has been meeting annually since 2008 to establish annual collaborative work plans and to monitor progress.
The current Plan of Action (2011-2014) focuses cooperative work on the following priority areas of mutual interest: food safety; drugs and medical product safety; e-Health and tele-health; infectious disease prevention and control; chronic disease prevention and control; response to health emergencies; and health systems strengthening, planning, development and capacity-building.
Numerous collaborative projects and activities have been conducted over the years under the Plans of Action, including: cooperation during the 2009 H1N1 pandemic; cooperation in infectious disease surveillance, control; laboratories; seminars/workshops on emerging infectious disease and chronic disease prevention and control; high level meetings and workshops on drugs and medical products, food, and consumer product safety; health human resource exchanges and trainings; a project on health policy evaluation; joint health research funding, projects and scholarships; and professional exchanges and workshops in health systems, public health, health promotion, chronic disease prevention and control, laboratories, hospital system and management. This broad cooperation involves many different partners in our two countries – federal/central government, provincial and local governments, universities, professional organizations, hospitals, research institutions and private enterprises; and demonstrated both the breadth and depth of the health collaboration between our two nations.
Minister of Health, Leona Aglukkaq and China’s Minister of Health Dr. Chen Zhu signing “Plan of Action on Cooperation in the Field of Health for the Period 2011-2014” at 3rd Canada-China Policy Dialgoue in Toronto, Sept. 2011
To date, three Canada-China Health Policy Dialogues (CCPD) and four Canada-China Joint Committee on Health meetings (CCJCH) have taken place.
In Jan. 2012, the Canadian Consulate General in Guangzhou held two health roundtables in Guangdong (Guangzhou) and Hunan (Changsha), respectively. These roundtables facilitated health discussions and cooperation between Canada and China’s provincial health departments, centers for disease control, universities and hospitals.
Primary health care and family medicine are important issues for both Canada and China in their respective health systems. The Canada-China Family Medicine Symposium held in the Canadian Embassy in Beijing on March 15-16, 2012 brought over 150 health professionals together from both countries to share information and experience. More importantly, the Symposium helped establish cooperative linkages between many Canadian and Chinese partners. Some of the collaborative work has already begun; and they are expected to raise our bilateral cooperation in family medicine and primary health care to a new level.
Participants to the Canada-China Family Medicine Symposium at Canadian Embassy, March 15-16, 2012
On May 25th, 2012, China’s Miister of Health Chen Zhu was awarded Honorary doctorate by University of Montreal. During this trip to Canada, he also held a meeting with the College of Family Physicians of Canada and the University of Toronto Family Medicine Department.
Minister Chen Zhu, Ambassador to Canada of P.R.C Zhang Junsai, and President of University of Montreal Dr. Guy Breton
In early June, 2012, Vice Chairman Sun Zhigang of National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) visited Canada and held meeting on Canada’s health insurance system, drug procurement, family physician training, primary care, and hospital management – important issu relating to China’s health care reform. During his visit, he met with officials from Health Canada and the province of Ontario, and experts from the College of Family Physicians of Canada, universities and hospitals. Vice Chairman Sun comment favorably of Canada’s health system and expressed interest in further bilateral cooperation.
Vice Chairman Sun Zhigang visiting Health Canada, together with Deputy Minister of Health Canada Ms. Glenda Yeates and Chief Operation Officer of Public Health Agency of Canada Ms. Krista Outhwaite (June 6, 2012)
In September 2012, two experts from the University of Alberta Spent two weeks in Beijing at the National Training Center for General Practice at Capital Medical University on training general practitioner (GP) teachers in China, developing curriculum for GP teacher training, and helping establish the general practitioner system in China.
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