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Botswana bids Chinese medical team farewell

GABORONE - Relations between Botswana and China have been growing by leaps and bounds especially at the economic, technical and health cooperation levels.

During the farewell ceremony for the 11th Chinese Medical Team , Health Minister, Ms Lesego Motsumi highlighted that diplomatic relations between Botswana and the People's Republic of China dated back to 1975.

The Health Minister said: "With specific reference to health, the government of China has been providing health experts to Botswana over a long period of time. I should also note with appreciation that the Chinese government provided a grant of approximately P1.1 million to finance the construction of the National Referral STD Treatment and Training Centre in Gaborone." The Minister went on to elaborate on the good collaborative ties between the two states.

She said "on January 21st 2008, China and Botswana signed a Memorandum of Agreement for the 12th Medical Team. The team will comprise 40 medical staff and six support staff.

The Chinese government has also offered to absorb the bill for the salaries and other living allowances." Beijing has taken yet another step to offer Chinese language as a course at the University of Botswana for those interested .

This will make matters even easier in terms of communication.

Addressing his compatriots, the Ambassador of China to Botswana, Mr Ding Xiaowen accentuated the importance of the role played by his country's compatriots in Botswana.

"Through their excellent treatment and patient nursing, hundreds of thousands of Batswana know more about China and the brotherly friendship between our two countries." He reiterated the special relationship that Botswana and China are enjoying at the moment.

As a developed country, China has an obligation to help developing countries to reach 'greater heights'. "Sending doctors and nurses is one of the important measures China takes to help developing countries. In the past 40 years, 20,000 doctors and nurses have been sent and 200 million patients have received their treatment and nursing care," he stated.

According to the Chinese Ambassador, Botswana will continue to constantly receive assistance from the Chinese government Now that the 11th team members are relocating to their homeland, China to meet their families, Botswana expects to welcome the 12th Chinese medical team later this month. Their mission will be fully financed by the Chinese government.

In his closing remarks, the Assistant Minister of Health, Mr Gaotlhaetse Matlhabaphiri spoke highly of the relationship between the two countries, referring to it as "a true symbol of the long standing relationship." Botswana has been enjoying the Chinese assistance not only from the point of view of the health sector but also from other sectors such as agriculture, transport, housing and education.

Towards the end of the farewell ceremony, the Health Minister awarded certificates and tokens of appreciation to the members of the 11th Chinese Medical Team, that had been diligently serving the nation of Botswana for the past three years.BOPA

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