On Friday, Chinese President Xi Jinping met with African health ministers at the Ministerial Forum of China-Africa Health Development in Beijing, where he promised to continue and strengthen medical support to African health care workers, hospitals, and companies developing vaccines for diseases.

The forum took an economic framework; as China’s economy has grown and it continues to purchase many materials from African countries, Xi hopes to strengthen both economic ties and medical ties. The Chinese president said China would continue providing medical assistance to the continent, vowing to increase maternal and child health care as well as offering free cataract surgery.

"Human development is at the core of development," Xi said. "We hope this forum will substantially push forward health cooperation between China and Africa."

48 African countries were represented as well as eight international organizations such as the World Health Organization (WHO), UNAIDS and the UN Population Fund.

China has been sending medical assistance to Africa since 1963, and in March 2013, President Xi toured the Republic of Congo, Tanzania, and South Africa as part of his first overseas tour as president. He was present at a hospital opening in the Republic of Congo, one of thirty hospitals that China promised to build.

1963 saw the first Chinese medical team (CMT) dispatched to Algeria. In CMTs, one Chinese province would be responsible for an African country and would send medical assistance to that country. Now, Doctors Without Borders says there are about 900 Chinese medical members working throughout the continent.

Doctors Without Borders also notes on its website that the China-Africa relationship is a distinctive international relationship: “one between equals, which is quite unique considering that equality in international relations is often neglected, although the concept has been an aim in almost all the social movements in the history of any country. China has never used the term ‘donor-recipient’ (a philanthropic idea) to describe China-African relations, using ‘partner’ instead.”

Other plans to assist African countries include helping to train 3,000 African health care workers, to continue carrying out the anti-malaria campaign, and to dispatch medical companies to assist African companies in producing vaccines for diseases like HIV/AIDS.

"Trust and sincerity between the two sides are more valuable than gold,” Xi said. “China and Africa have similar historic experiences and development tasks and I believe we also share bright prospects for development."