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Kamala Harris launches CDC Southeast Asia Regional Office
Minh Vu 19:53, 2021/08/25
The regional office is part of the US approach to strengthen global health security, including accelerating the capabilities of targeted countries to prevent, detect, and respond to infectious disease outbreaks.

US Vice President Kamala Harris today [August 25] launched the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Southeast Asia Regional Office in Hanoi, Vietnam.

US Vice President Kamala Harris at the launch of CDC Southeast Asia Regional Office in Hanoi on August 25. Photo: US Embassy Hanoi  

The ceremony marked the attendance of Vietnam’s Deputy Prime Minister Pham Binh Minh, the US Secretary of Health and Human Services, US CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, MD, Deputy Prime Ministers, and Health Ministers from several countries.

The Hanoi-based Regional Office will strengthen CDC’s ability to meet its mission of protecting Americans and the people of the region by responding more rapidly to health threats wherever they occur and building key relationships to tackle shared health priorities.

Speaking at the event, Harris said the launch of the regional office is aimed to help the next regional generations with professional healthcare. She reinforced the US commitment to regional health security cooperation and renewed previous calls to action on pandemic preparedness and response.

US Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra said: "through this office, we will work closely with our regional partners to share strategies and strengthen each other’s ability to prevent, detect, and respond to infectious disease threats, today and in the future."

CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, MD said the cooperation between CDC and regional countries will enable them to strengthen the resilience of health systems.

“CDC has a long-standing presence in Southeast Asia. Our longstanding partnership with the countries of the ASEAN [Association of Southeast Asian Nations] region has strengthened public health laboratories, emergency operations centers, surveillance systems – all tools that are being called upon during the current pandemic,” she said.

CDC is uniquely suited to increase American engagement and collaboration with Southeast Asian leaders to enhance regional capacity to prevent, detect, and respond to infectious diseases and other emerging health threats.

Priorities for the new regional office include building tomorrow’s public health workforce, expanding regional public health laboratory training, developing innovative programs to improve health for mobile and migrant populations, ensuring a coordinated response to public health emergencies through networked Emergency Operation Centers, and strengthening the early warning system for the detection of zoonotic and emerging infectious diseases.

 Vietnam's Deputy PM Pham Binh Minh (L), US Chargé d'Affaires to Vietnam Christopher Klein, US Vice President Kamala Harris at the launching ceremony. Photo: Minh Vu

John MacArthur, MD, is the new CDC Southeast Asia Regional Director. Prior to this appointment, Dr. MacArthur served as the CDC Thailand country director for more than six years. He has spent nearly half of his 23-year CDC career focused on improving health security in Southeast Asia including managing over US$100 million of infectious disease funds focusing on the control of malaria, tuberculosis, dengue, Zika, influenza, and Covid-19. Dr. MacArthur also served as CDC’s Team Lead for the US President’s Malaria Initiative, a $620 million per year program to control malaria in sub-Saharan Africa and the Greater Mekong Sub-region.

In addition to the Southeast Asia Regional Office, CDC also recently established Regional Offices in Eastern Europe/Central Asia (Georgia), the Middle East/North Africa (Oman), and South America (Brazil).

Commenting on the launch of the CDC Southeast Asia Regional Office, former Vietnamese Ambassador to the US Pham Quang Vinh said it represents the US enduring commitments to Southeast Asia regarding the health sector.

That Washington chose to set up the office shows mutual trust and cooperation at a significant level.

“I hope that this office will quickly come into play in preventing Covid-19, which is widespread in Southeast Asia. This will be an activity of significance in line with the urgency of the fight against the pandemic,” Vinh said.

The US is strengthening its global health security strategy to accelerate progress toward a world safe and secure from infectious disease threats and to take action to promote global health security as an international priority.

TAG: CDC Southeast Asia Regional Office covid-19 Vietnam vice president kamala harris
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