Thursday, July 29, 2010

Zambia secures loan for mobile hospitals

China on Monday gave Zambia a $53-million loan to build mobile hospitals to serve rural communities, following a visit by a top Chinese official.

Dai Bingguo, a member of China's State Council, or cabinet, also said China would provide $4.4-million to existing projects, including a new stadium, housing for civil servants and new government complex.

"China will continue to provide assistance to Zambia and we shall give a grant of 30 million yuan to be used to the already agreed projects and 361 million yuan concessional loan for mobile hospitals," Dai Bingguo said.

Dai is in Zambia for a two-day state visit and met with Vice-President George Kunda.

Zambia's health facilities, particularly for the rural communities, lack even basic supplies while in rural areas people have to walk for miles to the nearest clinic.

The dire state of the nation's public health has been underscored by an outbreak of measles that killed 88 people over the last two months, with the capital Lusaka the hardest-hit part of the country. It is the worst outbreak of the disease in seven years.

President Rupiah Banda said in March that his country had turned to China for financial help because of its attractive interest rates.

China has emerged as a major investor, trade partner and donor across Africa, drawing accusations of fostering a neo-colonialist attitude toward the continent.

Beijing has also been criticised for befriending the isolated governments in Sudan and Zimbabwe in a cynical bid to lock up resources needed to fuel expansion of its economy.

by Sapa-AFP, July 27 2010