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Cablegate: Ambassador Meets with Argentina's Health Minister

VZCZCXYZ0000
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHBU #1166 3002019
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 272019Z OCT 09
FM AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 4524
INFO RUCNMER/MERCOSUR COLLECTIVE
RUEAUSA/DEPT OF HHS WASHINGTON DC
RHMFIUU/HQ USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL

UNCLAS BUENOS AIRES 001166

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR OES/IHB - P. MURPHY AND D. WILUSZ
DEPT PLEASE PASS TO NATIONAL CANCER INSTITUTE
DEPT PLEASE PASS TO CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL
HHS FOR OFFICE OF GLOBAL HEALTH AFFAIRS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: TBIO SOCI PREL AMED CASC AR
SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR MEETS WITH ARGENTINA'S HEALTH MINISTER

1. ACTION REQUEST - See paras two and six.

2. Summary: The Ambassador, accompanied by ESTH Couns, met on
October 25 with Argentina's Health Minister Juan Manzur and
Vice-Minister Jaime Lazovski. Minister Manzur expressed his
appreciation for U.S. cooperation on H1N1 and shared his ministry's
experience in controlling the outbreak with the Ambassador. She, in
turn, expressed her gratitude for the help his office had provided
to the Center for Diseases Control (CDC), as CDC prepares to deal
with H1N1 during our winter flu season. Manzur also highlighted his
cooperation with Bolivia and Paraguay on dengue fever, expected to
resurge this coming austral summer. He mentioned his excellent
meeting with the Director of the National Cancer Institute (NCI) in
late September in Washington and shared his plan to create a similar
institute in Argentina. Noting that President Cristina Fernandez de
Kirchner fully supports it, he requested the Ambassador's assistance
in enlisting the NCI to support the project. He also expressed
interest in inviting HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to the cancer
institute's inauguration, tentatively set for March 2010. The
Ambassador pledged to work on both counts. Post requests
Department's assistance in contacting NCI and HHS to follow up on
these requests (See Para 6.) End Summary.

Lessons learned from H1N1 outbreak
----------------------------------

3. Minister Manzur stressed that Argentine health authorities had
learned a lot from the H1N1 outbreak. They had shared their
findings with physicians from the Center for Diseases Control (CDC)
who were in-country for several months to monitor the outbreak.
Manzur thanked the USG for the donation of 150,000 doses of Tamiflu
provided through the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO). He
noted that H1N1 had spread very rapidly, unlike the seasonal flu,
but that the epidemic was essentially over now in Argentina. The
Health Ministry had taken several critical measures, he said, which
had helped to control the virus. With H1N1 representing more than
92% of all flu cases, health authorities had provided Tamiflu free
of charge to all patients exhibiting flu symptoms within 48 hours of
the appearance of these symptoms. Communication about the
importance of personal hygiene, in-house isolation of H1N1 cases,
and the early start of the winter vacations for schools had helped
in controlling the spread of the virus. Manzur also highlighted the
GOA's focus on high-risk groups, such as pregnant women and
immune-deficiency patients, who were authorized paid leave during
the three-week peak of the outbreak.

Multilateral cooperation on dengue fever
----------------------------------------

4. Manzur said that 100 million people worldwide get dengue fever
annually and noted that there had been 26,000 cases in Argentina
this year, spread throughout 14 provinces. Communication on good
practices and hygiene was the key strategy to prevent the spread of
the disease, he said. He pointed out that these diseases know no
borders and highlighted his cooperation with the health ministers of
bordering Bolivia and Paraguay to undertake joint actions.

Assistance request to set up national cancer institute
--------------------------------------------- ---------

5. Manzur stressed that uterine and breast cancer in young women in
poor areas is a serious problem in Argentina, one that could be
mitigated with better education and screening. He recalled his
excellent meeting with the Director of the National Cancer Institute
in Washington in late September and shared with the Ambassador his
plan to set up a national cancer institute in Argentina. He noted
that President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner fully supports this
initiative. He asked for the Ambassador's help in obtaining NCI's
assistance to set up this cancer institute. He pointed out that
NCI's experience in public awareness and screening campaigns would
be invaluable to Argentina. Manzur also inquired whether the
Ambassador could assist with an invitation to HHS Secretary Kathleen
Sebelius to come to Buenos Aires for the inauguration of the
national cancer institute, expected for March 2010. The Ambassador
pledged her assistance on both counts.

6. ACTION REQUEST: Post requests Department's assistance in
contacting NCI and HHS to follow up on Health Minister Manzur's
requests.

MARTINEZ

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