IVLP Alumni Spotlight features U.S. Department of State International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) alumni as they reflect on the impact of the program and how it has affected their work and lives. Here we feature one alumnus who participated in a Single Country Project examining Non-Communicable Diseases. The participant spent three weeks in the United States exploring the roles and work of government agencies, public health and academic institutions, hospitals and service providers dealing with public health policies and advocacy.
Visitor: Dr. Zhiqiang Gu
Title: Senior Program Officer, Department of International Cooperation, National Health and Family Planning Commission
Country of Origin: People’s Republic of China
Itinerary: Washington, DC; Baltimore, MD; New York, NY; Atlanta, GA; Boston, MA; Albuquerque, NM
IVLP Project: Non-Communicable Diseases in the U.S., Single Country Project, 2016
What have you been up to since your IVLP experience?
Right after the IVLP program, I was promoted to be the Deputy Director of the Division for African Affairs (Foreign Assistance), and my major responsibilities include: a) bilateral health exchange and cooperation with African countries; b) foreign assistance in the health sector; and c) heading the Chinese Medical Team to foreign countries. I have also been working on fostering trilateral cooperation in public health in Africa, particularly with the African Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (ACDC) among China, US and the African Union, and a memorandum of understanding was signed last November. In addition, we are discussing with the Gates Foundation the possibilities of cooperation in Africa.
What one lesson that you learned or idea that you gained on your IVLP experience have you started to apply in your organization or your work?
One lesson that I learned from my IVLP experience was that there are a lot of networks, workforces, and alliances for different work or goals. Many of these networks/workforces/alliances are not necessarily formal, but a mechanism proven to be effective in terms of information sharing, networking and establishing partnership. In order to implement the 100 Maternal and Child Health Projects announced by our President Xi Jinpin, we have also formed a “100 Maternal and Child Health Projects Network”, and the members include academic institutions, hospitals, NGOs, and foundations, both at home and abroad. We believe by doing so, we can better share the information, establish partnerships, and develop projects tailored for different needs of different countries/regions.
What message would you like to share with the people who hosted and met with you in the US?
First of all, I would like to extend my sincere appreciation again to all the people who hosted and met with in the US. Thank you for your great hospitality.
Secondly, though there are many disputes in economics, politics, trade, internet etc. between China and US, health is one of the fields that the two countries can work together bilaterally or with other countries.
Thirdly, I visited 3 African countries after my IVLP, and the more countries I visited, the more that I felt the world is so unfair and uneven that there are a lot we have to do and can do in health. Let’s work hand in hand, for the health and well-being of the people of our two countries and of all the world.