The China Model: World Health Organisation Report

A distinct feature of what they call the ‘China Model’ is that it is not forced upon others. The Chinese simply seek to do the best possible in any situation, after which they assess their capabilities and undertake measures to improve even more. If other countries wish to follow the China Model, they may do so, although Chinese expertise always advises those countries to do so in light of their own situation and characteristics. As most countries in the world have turned their backs on the neo-liberal ‘Washington Consensus’, more and more are looking closely at the China Model and seeking to implement its features. This is particulalry the case in Africa and Central Asia, but also in Latin America.

An excellent recent example is China’s response to the outbreak of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). The World Health Organisation has certainly paid attention to the Chinese model in this case, consistently stressing the unprecented level of response and expertise. Indeed, the WHO is promoting the Chinese response as a new model for other countries where the epidemic has taken hold, as well as for future epidemics.

Let us pay attention to a recent WHO report on measures taken. The report observes:

In the face of a previously unknown virus, China has rolled out perhaps the most ambitious, agile and aggressive disease containment effort in history.

The report identifies 10 measures that it recommends other countries should follow:

1. Monitoring and reporting

COVID-19 was included in the statutory reporting of infectious diseases, and plans were formulated to strengthen diagnosis, monitoring and reporting.

2. Strengthening ports of entry and quarantine

The customs authorities launched an emergency plan for public health emergencies at ports across the country, and restarted the health declaration card system for entry and exit into cities, as well as strict monitoring of the temperature of entry and exit passengers.

3. Treatment

For severe or critical patients, the principle of “Four Concentrations” was implemented: i.e. concentrating patients, medical experts, resources and treatment into special centres.

All cities and districts transformed relevant hospitals, increased the number of designated hospitals, dispatched medical staff and set up expert groups for consultation so as to minimise mortality of severe patients.

Medical resources from all over China have been mobilised to support the medical treatment of patients in Wuhan.

4. Epidemiological investigation and close contact management

Strong epidemiological investigations are being carried out for cases, clusters and contacts to identify sources of infection and implement targeted control measures, such as contact tracing.

5. Social distancing

At the national level, the State Council extended the Spring Festival holiday in 2020, all parts of the country actively canceled or suspended activities like sporting events, cinema and theatre, and schools and colleges in all parts of the country postponed re-opening after the holiday.

Enterprises and institutions have staggered their return to work.

Transportation departments set up thousands of health and quarantine stations in national service areas, and in entrances and exits for passengers at stations.

Hubei province adopted the most stringent traffic control measures, such as suspension of urban public transport, including subway, ferry and long-distance passenger transport.

Every citizen has to wear a mask in public.

6. Funding and material support

Payment of health insurance for patients with the disease was taken over by the state, as well as work to improve accessibility and affordability of medical materials, provide personal protection materials and ensure basic necessities for affected people.

7. Emergency material support

The government restored production and expanded production capacity, organized key enterprises that have already started to exceed current production capacity, supported local enterprises in expanding imports and used cross-border e-commerce platforms and enterprises to help import medical materials and improve the ability to guarantee supplies.

8. International and interregional cooperation and information sharing

From 3 January, information on COVID-19 cases has been reported to the WHO daily.

Full genome sequences of the new virus were shared with the WHO and the international community immediately after the pathogen was identified on 7 January.

On 10 January, an expert group involving Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan technical experts and a World Health Organisation team was invited to visit Wuhan.

A set of nucleic acid primers and probes for PCR detection for COVID-19 was released on 21 January.

9. Daily updates

The National Health Commission announces the epidemic situation every day and holds daily press conferences to respond to emerging issues.

The government also frequently invites experts to share scientific knowledge on COVID-19 and address public concerns.

10. Social mobilisation and community engagement

Social organisations (community centres and public health centres) have been mobilised to support prevention and response activities.

The community is fully participating in the management of self-isolation and enhancement of public compliance.

Community volunteers are organised to support self-isolation and help isolated residents at home to solve practical life difficulties.

Measures were taken to limit the movement of the population through home-based support.

Conclusion

Maria van Kerkhove, technical lead for the WHO’s Health Emergencies Program observed: ‘everyone in China knows their role in the COVID-19 outbreak …they know how to protect themselves and their families, as well as what they need to do collectively to bring the epidemic under control’.

And on Chinese assistance, in light of their experience and expertise, with other countries, van Kerkhove observed: ‘This is an excellent example of peer-to-peer sharing what has been done, what can be done in other countries, and having direct interaction with another country … That direct interaction is what we want to see more and more happen. So having China share its experience with other countries is nothing short of excellence’.

Not bad praise for China’s socialist model.

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