Min Daniel Ngamije(L) and Chinese Ambassador to Rwanda Rao Hongwei
As an English proverb goes that “a friend in need is a friend Indeed,” a genuine friend is the one who helps their fellows at a time of need.
This proverb applies in Rwanda-China long friendship during the fight against Covid-19 pandemic.
When COVID-19 was confirmed in China, the country provided general information to whom was concerned and needed to take precautions.
On a particular note, China directly assisted Rwanda in response to COVID-19, including sending Personal Protective Equipment at large and medical equipment meant for the medical personel and then, providing COVID-19 vaccination doses made in China.
The latest donation from Beijing to Kigali was 300,000 doses of Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine that was received by the Rwanda Biomedical Center (RBC) officials on November 7. It was the second batch, after 200,000 doses of similar vaccines received in August this year.
The Sinopharm vaccine is among several others that have increased the number of people that have received the second dose to around 2.5 million people now. Over 4million have received the first dose, according to the Ministry of Health.
“We are happy to receive this second batch which is again a sign of good collaboration and support from the Chinese government in our fight against this pandemic,” Albert Tuyishime, the Head of Disease Prevention and Control Department at RBC, said last week.
“We are taking China as one of the leaders in promoting this equitable distribution of vaccines for COVID-19 and we are really encouraging others to step in so that we can have more countries accessing vaccines because we believe no one is really safe until we are all safe,” Tuyishime said.
At the time when Rwanda was still in the total lockdown in April 2020, China donated medications including medical protective facemasks, 10,000 surgical masks, 2000 disposable protective gear, 500 infrared thermometers, 2000 medical protective goggles, 10,000 pairs of medical isolation footwear and disposable sterilized rubber surgical gloves.
In June 2020, China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) donated medication to the Rwanda Defence Force to help in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.
In a statement then, Rwandan Ministry of Defence said that Covid-19 prevention and control supplies was valued at $290,000 which is nearly Rwf 290 million.
During the handover of the equipment in Kigali, Rao Hongwei, the Chinese ambassador to Rwanda said: “The donation will help the Rwandan side to improve its capability to fight against Covid-19 pandemic. It is a sign of profound and friendly relations between China and Rwanda.”
The donated medications included 50,000 units of disposable medical masks, 6,000 surgical masks, 6,000 medical N95 respirators, 4,200 medical safety goggles, 3,000 disposable medical protective face shields, 3,000 disposable one-piece protective gowns, 3,000 waterproof isolation gowns, 6,000 medical boot covers.
Others were 50 disposable nitrile gloves, 30 infusion pumps, 50 non-contact forehead infrared thermometers, two knapsack disinfection sprayers (16 litres) and two helmets for infrared thermal imaging temperature measurement.
Chinese support to Rwanda’s health sector is but a legacy. China sends 15 medical doctors on rotational basis to Rwanda for voluntary treatment every year to work at Kibungo hospital located in Ngoma district, Eastern province and Masaka hospital, Kigali city.
The two countries established diplomatic relations on November 2, 1971 and their relations were made stronger by the visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping in July 2018.