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. Health was identified as one of the pillars for strategic cooperation in the 2009 Canada-China Joint Statement.
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.