Chinese school dropouts driving mega projects in Africa but exporting malaria back home

By Gatonye Gathura

Malaria mosquitoes have exposed that most of Chinese workers driving mega project in Kenya and Africa are junior school dropouts.

While mega projects in Africa have opened, big employment opportunities for poorly educated Chinese, new study shows their ignorance is responsible for huge malaria exports back home.

A third of workers being sent to do projects in Africa, data shows have hardly completed the equivalent of Form Two in Kenya.

Of these who went to junior high school, 42 per cent dropped out before completing senior school which would be about the equivalent of Kenyan secondary school.

The basic Chinese education structure involves six-years in primary school, three in junior high school and three more in senior high school.

Though speculation is life in Kenya that China is sending convicts to work in China driven mega project actual data is difficulty to come by.

It is estimated that every year, approximately one million Chinese travel to work in Africa on a variety of public and private sector projects

However the Chinese are now worried of the high rates of malaria being exported by retuning workers from Africa.

A new study sampling 1,492 Chinese returnees from Africa showed more than 51 per cent to be manual labourers, 30.5 per cent technical workers and 18 per cent business people.

Respondents from private companies accounted for 56.9 per cent of the total, with 35.4 per cent from state-owned companies, and 7.7 per cent from other sectors.

The study published on 4th July in the Malaria Journal was conducted by the Chinese Academy of Inspection and Quarantine, and Guangzhou Airport Inspection Bureau.

The survey reported that malaria incidence was high among Chinese returnees who had worked in African countries.

The report indicates poorly educated workers were also at a greater risk of malaria infection since they did not understand prevention procedures.

“The survey showed high level of ignorance among Chinese international travellers for the need of seeking pre-travel medical advice and travel health preparedness.”

The report says in 2014, some 3022 imported malaria cases were reported in China, with  returnees from malaria-endemic countries in Africa accounting for  almost 75 per cent.

The top four countries with the most imported malaria cases were Nigeria, Equatorial Guinea, Angola and Ghana, respectively.

From this survey the researchers say almost nine per cent of Chinese workers returning Africa are at risk of malaria infection.

This, the study says poses a serious threat to malaria control efforts in China.

The authors recommend that for people going to work in Africa: the first step should be getting the pre-travel advice and secondly that every person must comply with prevention measures.

An earlier report compiled by the Chinese Health Ministry with assistance from World Health Organisation, recommended that exiting Chinese labourers be screened for malaria at the point of departure and if positive be treated before travelling.

The Chinese health authorities then said they were worried because the type of malaria being exported, especially from Kenya, is caused by the parasite P. falciparum which was eliminated from Jiangsu Province over 20 years ago.

With the construction of the Mombasa-Nairobi Standard Gauge Railway line, which cut across long stretches of malaria endemic zones, especially at the Coast this may have further increased the incidence of the disease among the Chinese labourers

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