On 18 January 2017, President Xi Jinping, President of the People’s Republic of China, visited WHO and met with Director-General Margaret Chan.
It was the first time China’s President has visited WHO. President Xi and Dr Chan discussed how China will bring forward its vision for health as a foundation for international cooperation in support of WHO global health goals. President Xi and Dr Chan signed a memo of understanding regarding areas of collaboration including refugee health and humanitarian health response to the crisis in Syria.
Under President Xi’s leadership, China has made substantial investments in R&D and innovations to address many health challenges, including the development of major capacity for manufacturing vaccine products and generic medical products. According to Dr Chan, China’s health care reform serves as a role-model for other countries in achieving Universal Health Coverage, a cornerstone for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
During his visit, President Xi presented as a gift to WHO a statue highlighting acupuncture, a widely used form of traditional Chinese medicine. As he unveiled the bronze statue, President Xi described it as a replica of the first teaching model for medicinal practice.
Madame Peng Liyuan, the First Lady of the People’s Republic of China, accompanied President Xi at the bilateral meeting with the Director-General. Following the meeting, Madame Peng received awards from WHO and UNAIDS for her work on HIV and tuberculosis at a special ceremony in her honour. Appointed as an ambassador by China’s Ministry of Health in 2006, her role in combatting the twin epidemics became international in June 2011 when she was appointed the WHO Goodwill Ambassador for HIV/AIDS and TB.
Madame Peng has advocated for HIV and TB prevention and control in high level political and social events including UN General Assemblies, the recent G20 summit in China and the 2015 China-Africa Summit in Johannesburg, South Africa. She has been particularly sensitive to the plight of affected children, speaking out against stigma and discrimination directed at people living with HIV/AIDS and TB.