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Jun 11, 2022 / 13:50

US CDC senior officials visit Vietnam to strengthen multi-country partnership

Hanoi-based CDC Southeast Asia Regional Office is one of four facilities of its kind globally together with those located in Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and South America.

Senior leaders from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) visited Hanoi this week to explore opportunities to strengthen multi-country activities as Vietnam is where  CDC Southeast Asia Regional Office is located.

 The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) headquarters in Georgia. 

The officials, including Dr. Debra Houry, Acting Principal Deputy Director, Dr. Mitchell Wolfe, Chief Medical Officer, among others, highlighted meaningful activities that maintain and strengthen CDC relationships with partner countries in the region and Vietnam.

They also discussed opportunities to build on the existing successes of longstanding relationships in health, including those with regional partners, such as ASEAN.

“We want to ensure CDC has the best strategy for a long-term overseas presence that builds on existing successes of our relationships, so that together, we can respond rapidly to the next emerging infectious disease threat before it becomes a pandemic,” Dr. Houry said. 

CDC Southeast Asia Regional Office is one of four CDC Regional Offices globally, besides the ones in Eastern Europe/Central Asia (Georgia), the Middle East/North Africa (Oman), and South America (Brazil).

She also congratulated Vietnam on being selected to serve as one of the locations of the new ASEAN Center for Public Health Emergencies and Emerging Diseases.

She underlined the CDC's longstanding partnership with the Government of Vietnam, naming it “an excellent model for how the US CDC can work with countries throughout Southeast Asia to address shared health threats.”

Given its strong partnership with Vietnam, CDC has established a national public health institute similar to CDC.

During the visit to Vietnam, the senior leaders met with the CDC Southeast Asia Regional Office and CDC Vietnam leadership, US Embassy officials, US CDC Country Directors from around Southeast Asia, and partners from the Government of Vietnam to discuss the CDC’s regional strategy for Southeast Asia.

 US Vice President Kamala Harris at the launch of CDC Southeast Asia Regional Office held in Hanoi on Aug 25, 2021. Photo: US Embassy in Hanoi 

Headquartered in Hanoi, the US CDC Southeast Asia Regional Office was formally launched on August 25, 2021, by Vice President Kamala Harris and Vietnam Deputy Prime Minister Pham Binh Minh, US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra, US CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, and health ministers from throughout the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) region. 

During the launch, Vice President Harris reinforced the US commitment to regional health security cooperation and renewed previous calls to action on pandemic preparedness and response.

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.

The Southeast Asia Regional Office strengthens the US CDC’s ability to meet its mission of protecting people in America and throughout Southeast Asia by responding more rapidly to health threats.

The US CDC has a long-standing presence in Southeast Asia including a CDC Vietnam Country Office, which has worked with the Government of Vietnam for almost 25 years to address shared health priorities.

In a recent interview with The Hanoi Times, Eric Dziuban, US CDC Vietnam Country Director, and Matthew R. Moore, Director, Global Health Security Program, US CDC Vietnam, said the US and Vietnam health diplomacy dated back to the 1950s. In July 1950, a CDC team of experts in malaria control traveled from Atlanta to Hanoi to share information and experiences with their Vietnamese counterparts.

Eric Dziuban, who took office in Vietnam at the time of the fierce battle against Covid-19 in 2021, said “we are doing everything we can to support the people of Vietnam in this fight. Việt Nam ơi, cố lên!”

“When we think back to the CDC scientists who traveled to Hanoi in the summer of 1950, and we look at the future of Vietnam – US health cooperation, we feel nothing but optimism,” said the two health experts.

They said the cooperation in health has helped strengthen the relationship between the two countries, providing targeted support for the betterment of the Vietnamese and American people. “This is the essence of health diplomacy,” they noted.