Canada and China have had a long-standing cooperative relationship in the field of health which dates back to the days of Dr. Norman Bethune.
In 1995, the health ministers of Canada and China signed a Memorandum of Understanding for health cooperation between the two countries. This has since been reinforced by five Action Plans, signed by health ministers, with the most recent covering the 2014-2016 periods. A Canada-China Joint Committee on Health was struck in 2007, and has been meeting annually since 2008, to establish annual collaborative work plans and to monitor progress.
The 2014-2016 Action Plan focuses on cooperative work in the following areas: infectious disease prevention and control; chronic disease prevention and control; response to health emergencies, including surveillance and early-warning; healthcare innovation, e-health and telehealth; healthy ageing; traditional Chinese medicine; health system strengthening, planning, development and capacity-building; and food safety standards development and risk assessment.
Numerous collaborative projects and activities have been conducted over the years under the Action Plans, including: cooperation during the 2009 influenza A(H1N1) pandemic and 2013-2014 influenza A(H7N9) outbreaks; cooperation in infectious disease surveillance and control and 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 training; health policy evaluation; joint health research funding and scholarships; and professional exchanges and workshops in health systems, public health, health promotion, chronic disease prevention and control, laboratories, hospital system and management and e-health. This broad cooperation has involved 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 the breadth and depth of bilateral health collaboration.