Sierra Leone: Chinese Ambassador Zhao Yanbo Attends the Unveiling Ceremony of the National Reference Laboratory

On 23 June 2016, the unveiling ceremony of the National Reference Laboratory for Viral Hemorrhagic Fevers and National Training Center for Viral Detection and Biosafety of Sierra Leone was held at the Sierra Leone-China Friendship Biosafety Laboratory in Freetown. H. E. Mr. Zhao Yanbo, Chinese Ambassador to Sierra Leone, Hon. Dr. Abubakarr Fofanah, Minister of Health and Sanitation of Sierra Leone, Dr. Gao Fu, Deputy Director-General of China Center for Disease Control and Prevention and other guests attended the event.

Addressing the event, Ambassador Zhao spoke highly of the achievements made by the Sierra Leone-China Friendship Biosafety Laboratory in Ebola virus detecting, local laboratory personnel training and bilateral public health cooperation since last March. Ambassador Zhao expressed his gratitude for the valuable support from the Ministry of Health and Sanitation of Sierra Leone for the smooth operation of the lab.

He opined that when Ebola epidemic broke out in Sierra Leone, China sent a mobile biosafety laboratory to the country by chartered airplanes and then helped to build a fixed biosafety laboratory, which is the Sierra Leone-China Friendship Biosafety Laboratory, for Sierra Leone without wasting any time to help this country improve its capacity of Ebola virus sample detection.

Now the Sierra Leone-China Friendship Biosafety laboratory has become an important platform of bilateral public health cooperation and today's unveiling ceremony also marks another milestone in the two countries' health cooperation. Ambassador Zhao promised that China would build a West Africa Tropical Disease Prevention and Control Center for Sierra Leone on the basis of this lab to promote the public health system of this country and benefit more Sierra Leonean people.

In his response, Minister Fofanah highly appreciated the traditional friendship between Sierra Leone and China. He averred that the two countries enjoyed tight relations as one family since the establishment of diplomatic ties 45 years ago. The support from the Chinese government and people would never be forgotten by the Sierra Leonean government and people.

In particular, when the Ebola epidemic broke out in Sierra Leone, China was the first country to answer the appeal of President Koroma and send in the urgently needed anti-Ebola materials. Now China-aided biosafety laboratory is the most advanced laboratory in the sub-region, making great contributions to the prevention and control of infectious disease in Sierra Leone.

Minister Fofanah further underscored that Sierra Leone had already officially launched the second phase of Post Ebola Recovery program, the Sierra Leonean government expects China's continuous support to help the country recovering from Ebola epidemic at an early date.

Afterwards, Ambassador Zhao and Minister Fofanah jointly unveiled the plaque and toured the laboratory.

Reporters coming from Sierra Leone Broadcasting Corporation and Awoko Newspaper covered the event.

Source: Forum on China-Africa Cooperation

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