HHS, Cuba Sign Public Health Pact

"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. 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," HHS Secretary Burwell said.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell signed a Memorandum of Understanding on June 13 with Cuba's Ministry of Public Health, expanding on the two countries' historic re-establishment of diplomatic relations in 2015. HHS reported that the MOU establishes coordination across a broad spectrum of public health issues, including communicable and non-communicable diseases, research and development, and information technology.

The signing was part of a two-day visit to HHS from Cuba's Minister of Health Dr. Roberto Tomás Morales Ojeda.

"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. 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," Burwell said.

The two countries could cooperate to address several health challenges they share, notably emerging infectious diseases such as dengue and chikungunya. Both have aging populations, HHS pointed out, adding that cancer is the leading cause of death in Cuba and the second-leading cause in the United States.

Several U.S. delegations have already traveled to Cuba since the 2015 diplomatic breakthrough and Cuba's vice minister for Public Health spent a week at HHS in April.

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