A China-Benin telemedicine cooperation centre has been jointly launched by a Chinese hospital and a Beninese hospital with an aim to provide China’s online medical services to medical institutions in the West African country.

At the centre’s unveiling ceremony, Chinese Doctors in the First People’s Hospital of Yinchuan, capital of Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, conducted an electrocardiogram and provided an online diagnosis for a Beninese patient at the central hospital of Lokossa.

The centre, supported by Internet powered telemedicine technology, will offer online imaging, surgery guidance and patient management services to medical institutions in Benin.

Ma Xiaofei, Head of the Yinchuan Municipal Health Commission, said at the ceremony that the Benin subsidiary of Huawei had helped improve the Internet connection in Beninese medical institutions to ensure the proper operation of the telemedicine centre.

The centre is the latest example of China’s broader push to cooperate with the countries along the Belt & Road in the field of “Internet plus healthcare.”

Since last year, the Chinese medical mission to Benin has conducted a number of telemedicine practices in the country. In March this year, doctors from the First People’s Hospital of Yinchuan provided online guidance for surgery on a Beninese patient with a thyroid tumour.

“The China-Benin telemedicine cooperation centre is only the first step. We hope to cooperate with more countries along the Belt & Road to help provide better healthcare,” Ma said.

At an international conference on Internet plus healthcare held in Yinchuan, government officials, academics and entrepreneurs from China and Arab countries reached a consensus that the two sides should deepen cooperation in using Internet technologies to improve medical services.

The conference is a part of the ongoing fourth China-Arab States Expo, which opened Thursday and will run until Sunday.

“The health of people around the world is still facing serious threats and challenges,” Mao Qun’an, Head of the planning and informatisation department of China’s National Health Commission, said at the event, adding that China is willing to work with Arab states to promote pragmatic cooperation in Internet plus healthcare for the benefit of people from both sides.

So far, China has signed cooperation documents in healthcare with 13 Arab League countries and launched a spate of cooperative projects in areas of disease prevention and control, public medical system construction, traditional medicine and talent training, according to Mao.

Mahmoud Hassan Elamin, Director of the Representative Office of the Arab League in Beijing, said at the conference that Internet plus healthcare is the new area of the China-Arab cooperation.

He said online medical services and artificial intelligence can help people from less developed regions in Arab countries who still have to travel far too big cities for better medical treatment.

China issued a guideline in April 2018 to enhance the role of the Internet plus in medical care, calling for the use of Internet technologies to improve the quality of public health services.

Ningxia is building the country’s first Internet plus healthcare demonstration zone, including a big data centre and a Healthcare Industrial Park.