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|Vice President Kamala D. Harris at the launch ceremony on August 25|
The ceremony included the US Secretary of Health and Human Services, the CDC director, as well as health ministers from eleven countries. The new regional office strengthens the CDC’s ability to fulfil its mission of protecting Americans and people of the region by responding more rapidly to health threats wherever they occur, while building key relationships to tackle shared health priorities.
Secretary 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. This achievement is the result of years of high-level cooperation between our governments. It also represents an important opportunity to come together to discuss our nations’ shared health security priorities.”
“The CDC has a long-standing presence in Southeast Asia. Our partnership with the countries of the ASEAN region has strengthened public health laboratories, emergency operations centres and surveillance systems – all tools that are being called upon during the current pandemic,” said CDC director, Rochelle Walensky, MD. “This new regional office will build upon these existing partnerships and help us grow stronger together.”
The 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 programmes to improve health for mobile and migrant populations, ensuring a coordinated response to public health emergencies through networked emergency operation centres, and strengthening the early warning system for the detection of zoonotic and emerging infectious diseases.
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 career focused on improving health security in Southeast Asia, including managing over $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 programme to control malaria in sub-Saharan Africa and the Greater Mekong Subregion.
In addition to the Southeast Asia Regional Office, the CDC also recently established the regional offices in Eastern Europe, Central Asia (Georgia), the Middle East, North Africa (Oman), and South America (Brazil).
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