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Cablegate: Hhs Secretary Leavitt's Meeting with Vietnamese

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 04 HANOI 002826

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SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED - DO NOT POST ON THE INTERNET

STATE FOR G; CA/OCS/ACS/EAP; EAP/EX; EAP/MLS; EAP/EP; INR;
OES/STC (PBATES); OES/IHA (DSINGER AND NCOMELLA)
BANGKOK FOR RMO, CDC, USAID/RDM/A (MFRIEDMAN)
USDA FOR FAS/PASS TO APHIS
DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE FOR OSD/ISA/AP (LSTERN)
NSC FOR FSHIRZAD AND JMELINE
HOMELAND SECURITY COUNCIL FOR RVENKAYYA
USAID FOR ANE AND GH (DCAROLL, SCLEMENTS AND PCHAPLIN)
STATE PASS USTR (ELENA BRYAN)
STATE ALSO PASS HHS/OGHA (WSTEIGER AND EELVANDER)
ROME FOR FAO
USMISSION GENEVA FOR HEALTH ATTACHE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL CASC EAGR PINR SOCI PGOV VM AFLU HIV AIDS
SUBJECT: HHS SECRETARY LEAVITT'S MEETING WITH VIETNAMESE
PRIME MINISTER PHAN VAN KHAI

1. (SBU) Summary: U.S. Secretary of Health and Human
Services (HHS) Michael Leavitt met with Vietnamese Prime
Minister Phan Van Khai October 14 to discuss bilateral
health cooperation and mutual concerns about avian influenza
(AI). The Prime Minister outlined Vietnam's commitment to
tackle AI, and described his Government's efforts to date.
In the area of health cooperation, he also requested U.S.
support for the establishment of Biosafety-Level 3 labs,
expansion of HIV/AIDS care and prevention, AI vaccine
production, improving Vietnam's health care system
(particularly at the local level), providing training for
Vietnamese health care workers and spurring private-sector
investment in the Vietnamese health care sector. The
Secretary described U.S. efforts underway to address both AI

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and HIV/AIDS, including a pledge to assist with the
development of lab facilities and the facilitation of HHS
Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval of HIV/AIDS
drugs manufactured in Vietnam. The Secretary also pledged
to cooperate with Vietnam in a transparent manner on AI, and
called on the GVN to do the same with the United States and
the international community. End Summary.

2. (SBU) U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Michael
Leavitt met October 14 with Prime Minister Phan Van Khai,
joined by Minister of Health Tran Thi Trung Chien. The
Ambassador and other delegation members (full U.S. list in
paragraph 13) joined the Secretary. The Prime Minister
opened by welcoming the Secretary and his delegation and
expressing his appreciation for the Secretary's efforts to
find ways to promote bilateral health cooperation, and, in
particular, implementing the commitment of President Bush to
assist Vietnam in controlling AI.

3. (SBU) The Secretary thanked the Prime Minister for his
Government's efforts to cooperate with the United States in
health and many other areas, and for Vietnam's generous
offer of assistance after Hurricane Katrina. The Secretary
made a point of saying the United States is well aware of
the losses Vietnam has suffered from AI. During today's
meetings with GVN officials (reported septel), including the
Minister of Health, the Secretary said, we expressed our
willingness to offer financial, personnel and technical
assistance, including laboratory and other equipment, to
Vietnam to help it to combat AI. Another issue discussed
was for the need to develop regional surveillance mechanisms
around the world to track AI.

4. (SBU) HIV/AIDS was another important issue discussed
during the Prime Minister's meeting with the President, the
Secretary continued, and one issue raised in today's

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meetings was the need to introduce into Vietnam generic anti-
retroviral drugs given tentative approval by HHS/FDA that
will allow more people to receive treatment. Bilateral work
on an AI vaccine was another topic of discussion, the
Secretary noted.

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5. (SBU) Vietnam is a poor country that needs the assistance
of its international partners, such as the United States, in
addressing health issues like AI, the Prime Minister said.
Vietnam has a plan to deal with AI, and one part of it is
the program to vaccinate all birds in Vietnam, including
ducks and chickens, he indicated. These vaccinations have
been carried out in 34 of 64 provinces and cities, according
to the Prime Minister, but there could be a ten-day delay in
carrying out the program because of the need to import
vaccines from another country. (NOTE: The GVN is importing
avian vaccine from the People's Republic of China. END
NOTE.) The Prime Minister went on to describe the second
part of the GVN's efforts, the establishment of a
comprehensive AI monitoring and control mechanism throughout
the country, which includes the slaughter of infected birds.
Vietnam's preventive measures also include checking the
transport of birds and livestock throughout the country and
halting the importation of livestock. These steps show the
determination of Vietnam and the Vietnamese people to combat
AI, the Prime Minister said, and Vietnam strongly supported
President Bush's announcement about AI.

6. (SBU) Because Vietnam is poor, it needs assistance in the
establishment of laboratories to examine and test livestock,
the Prime Minister continued. Therefore, he said Vietnam
would greatly appreciate support for the construction of two
Biosafety-Level 3 labs in the north and south of Vietnam to
monitor and detect diseases. If AI is allowed to mutate
from an animal to a human disease, it will become a
dangerous pandemic, but Vietnam is determined to prevent
this from happening, indicated the Prime Minister. If there
is an outbreak, the GVN will do its best to limit it to a
small area, but the GVN would welcome U.S. support for
personnel and equipment to monitor AI, the PM reiterated.

7. (SBU) Vietnam also welcomes U.S. support for HIV/AIDS
prevention and care, the Prime Minister said. The GVN is
undertaking many steps to raise awareness of this dangerous
disease, he indicated, but the number of those infected
continues to grow. HIV/AIDS is negatively affecting the
Vietnamese people, particularly youth, and Vietnam looks
forward to continued World Health Organization and HHS
support and cooperation in the cause of fighting HIV/AIDS,
according to the Prime Minister. Vietnam also hopes to work
on an HIV/AIDS vaccine, he said, particularly because the
disease particularly targets poor people, and any assistance
the USG can render would be greatly appreciated.

8. (SBU) The GVN has no greater mission than the care of the
Vietnamese people, proclaimed the Prime Minister, but
poverty and a poor health care infrastructure make this
difficult, he noted. The GVN has thus budgeted eight
trillion dong (approximately USD 51 million) to treat people
at the district level, rather than at central health care
facilities, which are increasingly overtaxed. However, this
plan requires health personnel and equipment; very often,
one hospital bed has two people in it, according to the
Prime Minister. In Vietnam's socio-economic plan for the
years 2006-2010, health care has a particular focus, he
said, and the GVN looks forward to working with its
international partners on this matter.

9. (SBU) Vietnam also recognizes that the United States has
one of the best health care systems in the world and would
welcome HHS and other USG support for the education and
training of Vietnam's health care workers, the PM continued.
Very often, Vietnamese people travel abroad for medical
treatment; this is an economic burden, he said. The Prime
Minister pointed to Health Minister Chien and indicated that
she often has questioned why the GVN does not make more
efforts to improve its health care system rather than
expending financial resources on transportation and other
infrastructure projects, the PM admitted. Unfortunately, he
lamented, Vietnam's economic situation does not allow this,
and, with a small smile, said perhaps the Health Ministry
ought to work harder to find creative solutions, such as
encouraging more private-sector investment in health care.
Perhaps the United States could work with Vietnam to build a
U.S.-run hospital in Vietnam, the PM suggested.

10. (SBU) The Secretary responded that the idea of U.S.
private-sector health care investment in Vietnam is worth
exploring. On AI, he expressed appreciation for the PM's
comments and the GVN's commitment to address this problem,
and noted that if AI is anywhere, the risk is everywhere.
The GVN's efforts to vaccinate birds represent bold actions
that the rest of the world can use as a model. Furthermore,
Vietnam's willingness to both monitor AI and vaccinate
poultry shows its solid commitment to tackle this problem.

11. (SBU) In terms of ways to help Vietnam, the United
States is prepared to assist in the development of
laboratory facilities, both in agricultural and human
diagnosis, the Secretary continued. The Unites States is
committed to working with the Minister of Health to
implement the Prime Minister's and the President's vision
for bilateral health cooperation. On the development of a
human AI vaccine, the Secretary had extensive discussions at
the National Institute for Health and Epidemiology on ways
to assist Vietnam's development of proper clinical trials
for maximum effectiveness and safety. There were also
discussions on ways to assist Vietnam to win HHS/FDA
tentative approval for the HIV/AIDS drugs manufactured here,
which would make them eligible for purchase under the
President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief. The Secretary
noted that he and Minister Chien also discussed ways for
lower cost (and HHS/FDA-approved) generic drugs to be
imported until Vietnam can manufacture its own that have
HHS/FDA tentative approval.

12. (SBU) In closing, the Secretary pledged the commitment
of the United States to continue to cooperate transparently
with Vietnam in fighting AI, and asked the GVN to do the
same with the United States and the international community.
We have good relations on the agricultural side, and we will
work hard to cooperate on the human side to ensure that we
know immediately if there is a problem, he added. The Prime
Minister agreed, and urged HHS to work directly with
Minister of Health Chien to implement bilateral plans and
actions.

13. (U) U.S. Participants

The Secretary
Ambassador Marine
Dr. Paula Dobriansky, Under Secretary of State for Democracy
and Global Affairs
Dr. James Butler, Deputy Under Secretary for Farm and
Foreign Agricultural Services, USDA
Dr. Kent Hill, Acting Assistant Administrator for Global
Health, USAID
Dr. Julie Gerberding, Director, Centers for Disease Control
and Prevention, HHS
Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director, National Institute for Allergy
and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health, HHS
Dr. William Steiger, Special Assistant for International
Affairs, HHS

14. (U) Secretary's Leavitt's party cleared this message.

BOARDMAN

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