China’s Belt and Road initiative to play a key role in overcoming global health challenges

21 August 2017

Michel Sidibé, the Executive Director of UNAIDS, has urged international health leaders to prioritize health development. While giving his keynote address at the opening ceremony of the Belt and Road High Level Meeting for Health Cooperation: Towards a Health Silk Road, Mr Sidibé also expressed to the Vice-Premier of China, Liu Yandong, his appreciation for China’s efforts through the Belt and Road initiative to create greater cooperation for better health and highlighted the ongoing work to strengthen China–Africa health connections.

More than 20 ministers and deputy ministers of health and the Director-General of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, attended the meeting, which was held in Beijing, China, on 18 and 19 August. The meeting looked at ways to collaborate across shared health goals, including innovation and technology, vaccine safety, nutrition, maternal and child health and human resources for health.

A communiqué issued at the end of the meeting commits China to support UNAIDS in its work in related fields and includes concrete actions and deliverables, including the creation of a public health cooperation network and an alliance for sustainable health development. 

China’s Vice-Minister of Commerce, Wang Shouwen, commended UNAIDS’ contribution to supporting China’s engagement with Africa and committed to strengthening cooperation with UNAIDS.

UNAIDS and the National Health and Family Planning Commission of China adopted a memorandum of understanding that enhances cooperation on the implementation of the Belt and Road initiative and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and aims to enhance the effectiveness of the global response to the AIDS epidemic. Both parties agreed to use the Belt and Road initiative as a catalyst and accelerator for the Sustainable Development Goals and achieving the global Fast-Track targets by 2020, including reducing new HIV infections and AIDS-related deaths to fewer than 500 000 globally and eliminating HIV-related stigma and discrimination. The five-year agreement includes an annual US$ 1 million contribution to UNAIDS.


“Health is the common pursuit of all mankind and also the eternal theme echoing in the ancient Silk Road for thousands of years. We hope to strengthen cooperation with the international community and contribute more Chinese wisdom to the development of human health.”

Liu Yandong Vice-Premier, China

“The Belt and Road initiative is about inclusiveness and connecting the dots across borders, issues and agendas for mutual benefit and development. It is a people-centred approach. Without this there can be no transformation in health.”

Michel Sidibé Executive Director, UNAIDS

“The Belt and Road initiative contains the fundamentals to achieve universal health coverage, access to medicines, human resources and a platform to share experience and promote best practices.”

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus Director-General, World Health Organization