By: James Kamara-Manneh

The 6TH Chinese Military Medical Expert Group has on 29th May 2023 bid Farewell to the people of Sierra Leone at a dinner organized by the Chinese Embassy and the Ministry of Defence. The dinner was held at the Chinese Embassy in Freetown.

Speaking at the farewell dinner, the Chinese Ambassador to Sierra Leone Amb. Wang Qing said it was clearly seen that H.E. President Julius Maada Bio, as Commander-in-Chief of the RSLAF attaches great importance to the development of a close relationship between both countries and their armed forces.

The 6th Chinese Military Medical Expert Group was dispatched to Sierra Leone in February 2022 for enhancing military medical cooperation between our two sides. The cooperation dates back to 2015 when the Chinese side came to help Sierra Leone in fighting against Ebola. All the members of the Chinese Military Medical Expert Group were carefully selected from the People’s Liberation Army of China. They have proven with solid actions that they love Sierra Leone and they are serious with their lofty mission. 

The Ambassador added that over the past year, they have been working side by side with their Sierra Leonean counterparts at the Tropical Infectious Diseases Prevention and Control Center (IDPC) at the 34 Military Hospital. They have exerted immense efforts in helping the Sierra Leonean side screen, prevent and control all kinds of epidemics.

He said they have exchanged experience and expertise with the Sierra Leonean colleagues by discussing difficult cases and providing guidance to technicians. They have upgraded the software and hardware of Infectious Diseases Surveillance System, helping turn the clinical laboratory of 34 Hospital into one of the most advanced labs in Sierra Leone. They have visited the villages to offer free consultations and medicines to patients in need.

“They have worked with the University of Sierra Leone, Njala University, and Connaught Hospital, handling eight thousand samples from all over the country, and gave a thorough detection of eight kinds of infectious diseases in Sierra Leone, he added that ‘they identified anthrax last year and immediately informed the Sierra Leonean Government which responded swiftly to control the spread of this dreadful disease.”

Amb. Qing said their dedication and hard work have vividly demonstrated the genuine friendship between China and Sierra Leone, and they have endeavoured to contribute to the building of an even stronger China-Africa Community with a Shared Future proposed by H.E. President Xi Jinping and supported by Sierra Leone.

He revealed that the two-armed forces are peace-loving armies with fraternal ties. Over the years, they have carried out fruitful cooperation in various fields including but not limited to medical and healthcare, utility construction, equipment supply, personnel training, etc.

He highlighted some of the development Sierra Leone has enjoyed under the People’s Republic of China that a brand-new China Aided Myohaung Officers’ Mess and Single Officers’ Quarters were commissioned by H.E. President Maada Bio. A batch of machinery, vehicles and engineering equipment was donated and delivered by the PLA to the RSLAF, boosting the morale of soldiers and contributing to the consolidation of peace, and security in the country. Recently,  President Bio commissioned the Type-C vessel to the maritime wing and named it “Madam Yoko” to remember the great female leader in the history of Sierra Leone.

“Several weeks ago, our two sides coordinated closely to help identify and locate a hijacked cargo ship in the Gulf of Guinea. This is another vivid example of the trust and cooperation between our two countries and two armies. Looking forward, we will work more closely together in the years to come to achieve more tangible results.”

Since the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1971, China-Sierra Leone relations have reached an all-time high level and become a model for China-Africa relations and South-South cooperation. The relationship is based on mutual respect, equality, mutual trust, mutual support and win-win cooperation have grown even stronger.

“…we will continue to enhance the mutual understanding of our two peoples, deepen the traditional friendship between the two countries, and push forward the China-Sierra Leone friendship and cooperation to a new level, bringing more benefits to the people of both countries,” he vouched.

Whereas the Deputy Minister of Defence, Col (Rtd) Muana Massaquoi reiterated the Bilateral relationship between both countries describing it as a long fruitful relationship. Recapping, he said Sierra Leone and China into the limelight when the former voted for the addition of China into the permanent five member States of the United Nations Security Council in 1971.

The minister further recapped the numerous benefits Sierra Leone has been enjoying since being friends with China. He also applauded the Chinese for contributing to the economy of the country, by bringing various mining and business investors into the country by creating jobs for young people.

He appreciated the People’s Liberation Army for sending self-sacrificial men and women to Sierra Leone at a time it was direly in need of medical experts. He said the Chinese were the first international country to send in medical experts during the Ebola epidemic.

He said the 6th group have gone beyond the traditional role of working with the RSLAF by venturing into research work with other ministries, departments and agencies such as the Ministry of Agriculture and Ministry of Health and Sanitation. He said the 6th group was also active during the vaccination process at the outbreak of anthrax in the North and North-west region of the country in 2022.

He assured the 6th group of more assurance and support from the Sierra Leonean group to all Chinese medical teams after them. He concluded by extending appreciation to them and their family members back home.

The Commanding Officer of the Joint Medical Unit Dr. Stephen Sevalie expressed appreciation to the 6th Chinese Medical team for sharing experiences doing researches in the medical field. He thanked the team for such expertise’s displayed during their mission and the facelift erected at the 34 military hospital.

The farewell dinner was graced by Hon. Deputy Minister of Defence Col. (Rtd) Muana Massaquoi, Chief of Defence Staff Lieutenant General Peter Lavahun, Commanding Officer of the Joint Medical Unit Dr. Stephen Sevalie, Members of the Chinese Military Medical Expert Group, and the members of the fourth Estate.

The dinner climaxed with a Certificate of Appreciation given to each 6th Chinese Military Medical Expert with an exchange of felicitations later.

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