by Julius Gale
JUBA, June 3 (Xinhua) -- China on Saturday donated over half a million boxes of anti-malaria medicine to South Sudan to help the East African nation fight the deadly parasitic disease.
The donation worth 750,000 U.S. dollars was handed over to the ministry of health by the Chinese embassy in South Sudan at the capital Juba.
The medicine included tablets and injection doses for adults and children, as well as syringes.
He Xiandong, Chinese Ambassador to South Sudan, said the donation is part of Beijing's efforts to help South Sudan develop its health sector, adding that the donation is a gesture of true friendship and bilateral cooperation.
The envoy said the medicine would benefit at least 400,000 people across South Sudan.
"Public health is of vital importance to any country especially in South Sudan. That is why China attaches great importance to the cooperation between our two countries in the sector of public health," He said.
Health Minister Riek Gai Kok said the donation came at the right time when malaria cases are expected to rise between July and September.
The minister said China remains an important partner for development and stability. "Our partnership with China on daily basis is growing from strength to strength because China's contribution to our country is felt in the grassroots level," Kok said.
South Sudan's health system remains poor and underdeveloped following decades of civil war and conflicts.
The World Health Organization (WHO) said in April that South Sudan recorded steady increase in new malaria cases over the past five years as infections among people over five years increased from 700,000 in 2012 to 1.1 million in 2016 and another 600,000 children under 5 years also got infected.
The WHO said at least 391,000 new malaria infections and 19 deaths have been recorded since the start of 2017 across South Sudan.
Early this year, the two countries agreed to boost cooperation in the health sector by enhancing knowledge sharing, capacity building, and hospital-to-hospital collaboration.
The agreements seek to modernize the health facilities in South Sudan, hospital-to-hospital collaboration and allow Chinese health specialists to set up experimental operations and management units in the nation.
A team of 15 Chinese medical specialists are already working at various hospitals across the war-torn country.