Garrison D., Kaufman, J., Lin, S., Gao, L., Reyes, M., Matemu, S., and El-Sadr, W. (2020)
China has played an increasing role in development aid across Africa. Most recently, China has increased its external investments through the Belt and Road Initiative, China’s signature infrastructure and trade drive to link China to Asia and Africa. This is likely to result in continuing growth of China’s investment in health in sub Saharan Africa. While conflicting opinions have been raised regarding the motivation and value of these investments, few data have been solicited from those directly involved in China-Africa health aid. We conducted a qualitative study to collect information on perceptions and opinions regarding Chinese-supported health related activities in Africa through in-depth interviews among local African and Chinese participants in Malawi and Tanzania.
Our findings reveal shared experiences and views related to challenges in communication; cultural perspectives and historical context; divergence between political and business agendas; organization of aid implementation; management and leadership; and sustainability. Participants were broadly supportive and highly valued Chinese health aid. However, they also shared common insights that relate to challenging coordination between China and recipient countries; impediments to communication between health teams; and limited understanding of priorities and expectations. Further, they share perspectives about the need for shaping the assistance based on needs assessments as well as the importance of rigorous reporting, and monitoring and evaluation systems.