“Each of these little vials—every single one—can protect a child,” says PATH board member Dr. Yehong Zhang, leaning over a humming conveyor belt as hundreds of vials of Japanese encephalitis vaccine whisk by. “It’s moving, really. This is why we do this work.”
I’m standing with Dr. Zhang at the Chengdu Institute of Biological Products (CDIBP) in southwestern China. It’s spring in Chengdu, and the city is enjoying the warm, humid weather it’s known for. But inside the factory the air is cool. We’re here—dressed in blue hairnets, shoe-covers, and lab coats—to tour the campus and talk with CDIBP experts about the decade of partnership, science, and global-health expertise that allowed PATH and the institute to bring this powerful vaccine to families in China and neighboring countries.
This year, PATH celebrates 40 years at the forefront of global health—a rise that began, years ago, with our first projects in China. The CDIBP visit is just one stop on an exhilarating, weeklong trip with PATH’s unique Journeys program, which brings select groups of supporters, friends, and PATH executives to the forefront of our projects worldwide—including our roots in China.
For five days, we visited the modern factories, historic sites, quiet gardens, and overflowing cities that make China so unique. Along the way, we saw what it takes to develop a breakthrough vaccine, discussed how barriers in distribution can affect the promise of a lifesaving technology, and explored the biggest threats and opportunities in global health today. Together, we looked into China’s past, present, and future: from the lessons of the Cultural Revolution to the global impact of the nation’s growing middle class.
Today, PATH’s manufacturing partnerships and technical assistance in China are having a remarkable health impact, both inside China and beyond its borders. This trip was a deep and surprisingly all-access window into a country that has remained a trusted PATH partner while growing into a leading player in global health.
Here are some highlights from our eye-opening tour of PATH’s work and partnerships in China.
All told, the work of global health—helping families thrive—ignites the passion of some of the smartest, most passionate people on earth. PATH’s Journeys travel program takes you right where they work. We’re already planning upcoming trips—including in-depth itineraries to India, South Africa, and Vietnam.
- Laura Anderson is an editor at PATH.