HHS memo shows that agencies should be ready to work with Cuba
Carten Cordell, Federal Times 4:21 p.m. EDT June 13, 2016
The 50-year freeze in U.S.-Cuba relations continued its diplomatic thaw
on June 13, this time with the Department of Health and Human Services.
HHS and the Cuban Ministry of Public Health entered into a Memorandum of
Understanding that would allow the former Cold War foes to coordinate
efforts to battle infectious diseases and a wide range of other public
health issues, officials said.
“Cuba has made significant contributions to health and science, as
evidenced by their contribution to the Ebola response in West Africa and
becoming the first country to eliminate mother-to-child HIV
transmission,” HHS Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell said in a statement.
“This new collaboration is a historic opportunity for two nations to
build on each other’s knowledge and experience, and benefit biomedical
research and public health at large.”
The MOU offers cooperation on what officials said was “broad spectrum of
public health issues, including global health security, communicable and
non-communicable diseases, research and development and information
HHS officials said that the two countries would combine efforts on to
combat infectious diseases, including dengue and chikungunya, as well as
address the systemic challenges of long-term diseases, like cancer, on
their respective health care networks.
The move is the next step in a series of diplomatic moves made by the
Obama administration to normalize relations with the communist nation
that have been animus for much of the past five decades.
Since announcing that diplomatic relations with Cuba would open in 2014,
Obama has traveled to the nation, reopened the U.S. embassy in Havana
and began a series of MOUs on topics ranging from regulatory to
counternarcotic policy agreements.
The Department of Transportation said on Feb. 16 that the two countries
agreed to reopen air travel, followed by the first direct mail flights
to Cuba a month later.
The MOU coincides with a two-day visit from Cuban Minister of Health,
Dr. Roberto Tomás Morales Ojeda, to the agency.
Source: HHS memo shows that agencies should be ready to work with Cuba –