SCO Secretary-General attends webinar on mutual assistance and exchange of information on the fight against COVID-19

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On 7 July 2020, SCO Secretary-General Vladimir Norov took part in a webinar on Mutual Assistance for the Common Good organised by the Chinese SCO Committee on Good-Neighbourliness, Friendship and Cooperation together with the Chinese Hospital Association.

It was the first of the four sessions on information technology for the prevention, monitoring, diagnosis and treatment of the COVID-19 infection, as well as on enhancing the hospitals' emergency response capability, during which experts from prominent Chinese healthcare establishments will exchange views with healthcare representatives of the SCO member states.

Vice-President of the Chinese Hospital Association Fang Laiying moderated the event, which was attended by Dr Jianjun (Jessie Zou), Chief Medical Officer and Vice President of Jiangsu Hengrui Medicine of the Jiangsu Hengrui Pharmaceutical Group, and D. Odonchinceg from Mongolia's National Centre for Mental Health.

Vladimir Norov pointed out that the coronavirus pandemic provoked a global economic crisis not unlike the Great Depression and revealed serious problems in the healthcare system. He emphasised that the SCO member states, acting in accordance with the principles of the Shanghai Spirit, had demonstrated a high level of solidarity and mutual support in combating the pandemic.

The SCO Secretary-General commended the activities of the Chinese Government, which promptly took resolute measures when it came to the mobilisation, deployment and reinforcement of preventive measures against COVID-19, as well as the courage of the Chinese people who had squared up to the new epidemic.

Vladimir Norov mentioned the importance of the SCO events held to rally the efforts against the coronavirus infection, including an expert meeting to prepare the SCO Healthcare Ministers' conference held on 1 April 2020 to discuss methods to ensure the biological safety of the SCO nations; a training seminar on combating the coronavirus infection organised by Alibaba Group and the Jack Ma Foundation with the involvement of leading Chinese doctors and researchers; consultations of experts and heads of sanitary and epidemiological welfare services of the SCO member states held on 16-17 June 2020, during which they coordinated a comprehensive plan of joint actions to prevent the spread of epidemics in the region and discussed an agreement on cooperation against plague, which are to be adopted at the upcoming SCO Summit due to be held in St Petersburg this year.

He noted that the SCO Secretariat, seeking to strengthen the coordination of the SCO countries' efforts against infectious diseases, has proposed complementing the SCO Healthcare Ministers' Conference with a Coordination Council on Joint Efforts Against the Threat of Epidemics in the SCO space at the level of deputy heads of sanitary and epidemiological welfare services of the SCO member states aimed at organising rapid response to such threats.

Vladimir Norov told the participants about the 13 May 2020 videoconference of the SCO countries' foreign ministers, who adopted a Statement by the SCO Foreign Ministers Concerning the Spread of the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) to reaffirm the SCO countries' resolve to use all of the existing mechanisms, to continue to hold consultations on combating the spread of the virus and to adopt joint measures against it.

He pointed out that "multilateral cooperation in the fields of healthcare plus sanitary and epidemiological welfare of the SCO countries is more important now than ever before." He added that China's experience in combating epidemics had shown that "early detection, early reporting, early isolation and early treatment" were the most effective measures in this battle.

Medical experts delivered reports on the clinical diagnosis and treatment of COVID-19. Wang Guiqiang, Director of the Infectious Diseases Department of the Peking University First Hospital, shared information about malignant changes in the internal organs caused by COVID-19, demonstrated the correlation between serious cases and deaths in different age groups, and also informed the participants about specific treatments such as blood purification.

A representative of the First Affiliated Hospital at the Zhejiang University School of Medicine updated the participants on novel methods and technology for the treatment of coronavirus patients, which "made possible the miracle we are witnessing: not a single member of the hospital staff has caught the disease, not a single wrong diagnosis has been made, and not a single patient at the hospital has died."

Speakers during the debates included, inter alia, Professor Luo Fengming, Deputy Director of the Respiratory and Critical Medicine Department of the West China Hospital of Sichuan University; Zhong Jianing, Director of the Infectious Diseases Department at the First Affiliated Hospital of Guangxi Medical University; and Huang Jian, Vice-President of the Second Affiliated Hospital at the Zhejiang University School of Medicine.

The results of the webinar were summarised by Liu Ming, section head at the International Cooperation Department of the Chinese State Healthcare Commission, and Zheng Wei, Secretary General of the Chinese SCO Committee on Good-Neighbourliness, Friendship and Cooperation, who noted that the webinar on COVID-19 was open to all SCO Family countries and that it was organised to create a platform for direct communications between the SCO countries' hospitals.

The Chinese Hospital Association is acting under the guidance of the Chinese State Healthcare Commission to promote cooperation projects within the Belt and Road Initiative and framework mechanisms of cooperation between China and its partners. Three more sessions of the webinar will be held within the next three weeks.