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Cablegate: Russian Health Ministry and Usg Counterparts Refine

VZCZCXRO6189
PP RUEHAST RUEHDBU RUEHDH RUEHHM RUEHLN RUEHMA RUEHPB RUEHPOD RUEHSK
RUEHSL RUEHTM RUEHTRO RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHMO #2978/01 3431609
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 091609Z DEC 09
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 5621
INFO RUEHVK/AMCONSUL VLADIVOSTOK 3414
RUEHYG/AMCONSUL YEKATERINBURG 3766
RUEHLN/AMCONSUL ST PETERSBURG 5542
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE
RUEHXD/MOSCOW POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RUEHZN/ENVIRONMENT SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY COLLECTIVE
RUEAUSA/DEPT OF HHS WASHINGTON DC
RUEHC/DEPT OF LABOR WASHDC
RULSDMK/DEPT OF TRANSPORTATION WASHDC
RUEHPH/CDC ATLANTA GA

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 MOSCOW 002978

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPT FOR EUR/RUS, EUR/PGI, OES/PCI, OES/IHB
OES/FO FOR CARTER-FOSTER
USAID FOR GH, E&E
HHS FOR OGHA
HHS PLEASE PASS TO NIH AND FDA

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: TBIO PREL EAID SOCI KHIV TSPL RS

SUBJECT: RUSSIAN HEALTH MINISTRY AND USG COUNTERPARTS REFINE
PRIORITIES FOR HEALTH COOPERATION

REF: MOSCOW 1181 (NOTAL)

MOSCOW 00002978 001.4 OF 003


SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED -- PLEASE PROTECT ACCORDINGLY.

1. (U) SUMMARY: Russia's Deputy Health Minister Veronika Skvortsova
expressed strong interest in broadened cooperation with the United
States through the Bilateral Presidential Commission and related
health agreements in meetings with officials of the National
Institutes of Health (NIH), the Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention (CDC), and other USG counterparts in November and
December. Russia's top priorities are to tackle cardiovascular
disease, cancer, and external causes of death (including trauma),
the three main drivers of Russia's high early mortality rates.
Skvortsova told CDC she is willing to support exchanges of health
professionals. She is especially interested in exchanges focused on
international best practices in alcohol and tobacco regulation,
cancer prevention, telemedicine and rural health care, and training
of young scientists in clinical research. Identifying areas of
collaboration is relatively easy; overcoming persistent barriers to
cooperation -- including taxation of science grants, customs issues,
and visa difficulties -- will be a major challenge. END SUMMARY.

2. (U) Before Presidents Obama and Medvedev announced their
Bilateral Presidential Commission in July, Russia's Ministry of
Health and Social Development (MOHSD) showed early interest in
revitalizing cooperation with the United States on public health and
medical science (reftel). On July 6, the first day of the
presidents' Moscow summit meeting, Deputy Minister Veronika
Skvortsova and Ambassador Beyrle signed a Memorandum of
Understanding (MOU) outlining shared areas of interest in health
cooperation: infectious and non-infectious diseases, promotion of
healthy lifestyles, maternal and child health, and global health.
Following the summit, MOHSD proposed a draft list of action items to
implement the MOU. On November 30, NIH signed a Statement of Intent
on scientific cooperation with the Russian Academy of Medical
Sciences. In a November 20 meeting with CDC's Acting Deputy
Director and in a December 1 meeting with NIH officials, Deputy
Minister Skvortsova discussed areas of shared interest and joint
activities that could be undertaken in the near term to create a
record of early accomplishments for the Presidential Commission's
Health Working Group.

PREVENTING CARDIOVASCULAR DISEASE AND CANCER
--------------------------------------------

3. (SBU) On November 20, on the margins of the first Global
Ministerial Conference on Road Safety, Skvortsova told CDC's Acting
Deputy Director Dr. Ileana Arias that MOHSD's top priorities are
addressing cardiovascular disease and cancer. (Note: These are
Russia's two leading causes of death, having caused 57 and 14
percent, respectively, of all deaths in 2008. End note.)
Skvortsova said that Russia is mounting a major program of cancer
prevention focused on high-risk groups. She said that her ministry
is also interested in studying international best practices in
regulation of tobacco and alcohol. (Note: Leading Russian health
experts attribute 22 and 17 percent of all the country's deaths,
respectively, to the effects of alcohol and tobacco use. End
note.)

4. (SBU) Skvortsova responded positively to Dr. Arias' suggestion
that CDC and MOHSD arrange a series of visits by Russian physicians
and researchers to the United States lasting from one month to one
year or longer. Skvortsova said that MOHSD would be glad to host
U.S. visitors as part of such a program. Skvortsova also said that
the Russian government is cooperating with NGOs to reduce tobacco
use and alcohol consumption, and she showed strong interest in Dr.
Arias' description of wellness programs within the U.S. economic
stimulus package.

IMPROVING ROAD SAFETY AND TRAUMA CARE
-------------------------------------

5. (SBU) Joe Toole, Associate Administrator for Safety at the

MOSCOW 00002978 002.4 OF 003


Federal Highway Administration, attended the meeting between Dr.
Arias and Deputy Minister Skvortsova, organized at the request of
DOS Sr. Health Advisor Nancy Carter-Foster, chair of the Interagency
Global Road Safety Roundtable. He commented on the need for road
traffic authorities and health agencies to coordinate their efforts
to improve road safety. (NOTE: "External causes," which include
traffic accidents and other forms of trauma, are Russia's third
leading cause of death. END NOTE.) He suggested that highway and
health authorities can cooperate to reduce traffic deaths by
identifying factors that contribute to road accidents, which can
often be remedied through simple and inexpensive fixes, such as
placing signage or trimming plant growth.

6. (SBU) Skvortsova agreed with the need for interagency
coordination. She said that Russia's vast, sparsely populated areas
and poorly developed road infrastructure contribute to a serious
problem of trauma and death from highway accidents. She explained
that Russia is working to develop a system of telemedicine that
would allow physicians in Moscow and regional centers to diagnose
and recommend treatment for patients in remote locations through
transmission of medical data and images. This project is part of a
broader effort within the Russian health care system, active since
2008, to improve and restructure cardiovascular care by creating a
network of regional centers. In addition, Sergey Goncharov,
director of the MOHSD emergency medicine center "Zashchita"
(Defense), expressed interest in sharing information on training,
equipment, and techniques used in U.S. trauma care and emergency
response.

7. (U) Skvortsova and Arias agreed that their agencies would
exchange written statements on their top priorities for cooperation
and would suggest specific activities. Subsequent meetings would
also include the Ministries of Interior and Transport, the other
major agencies involved in road safety.

BRINGING RESEARCHERS TOGETHER
-----------------------------

8. (SBU) In their December 1 meeting with Deputy Minister
Skvortsova, Dr. Roger Glass, NIH's Associate Director for
International Research and Director of the Fogarty International
Center, and Dr. John Gallin, Director of NIH's Clinical Center,
asked Skvortsova to consider ways of reducing barriers to
cooperation. Specifically, Glass cited Russia's taxation of NIH
grants and bureaucratic difficulties with exchanging people and
scientific materials such as reagents. NIH funding for research in
Russia increased from $4.2 million in fiscal year 2005 to over $10
million in fiscal 2008, but given Russia's size and large scientific
community, Dr. Glass said, cooperation should be far more active.

9. (SBU) Glass told Skvortsova that NIH is interested in joint work
on cancer and tuberculosis research, training of young scientists in
principles of clinical research, and convening a health sciences
forum under the Statement of Intent signed with the Russian Academy
of Medical Sciences on November 30. He told Skvortsova that HHS
Assistant Secretary Howard Koh plans to visit Moscow in spring 2010
to discuss the health sciences forum and future steps.

10. (SBU) Skvortsova said that MOHSD's priority interests include
basic research and its applications to clinical research. She
expressed great interest in NIH's course on the principles and
practice of clinical research and assured Drs. Glass and Gallin that
her staff would study the course materials thoroughly. (COMMENT:
Dr. Gallin was impressed with the opportunities to partner with
Russian colleagues in bringing the course to Russia and will be
pursuing collaborations. END COMMENT.) Skvortsova also asked for
further information on NIH's research grants, saying that she wanted
to ensure "symmetrical" funding of joint projects from Russian
agencies.

11. (SBU) COMMENT: Dr. Skvortsova is Russia's highest ranking
policymaker focused exclusively on public health, and her portfolio
is an immense burden for a single official. As a medical

MOSCOW 00002978 003.4 OF 003


researcher, her area of expertise is neurology and the study of
strokes; this interest influences her policy focus. Her scientific
background may also make her sympathetic to USG proposals to remove
bureaucratic and political obstacles that prevent scientists from
collaborating. This effort is likely to be among the more daunting
tasks on the bilateral health agenda, as it will require cooperation
by the Finance Ministry (in the case of grant taxation) as well as
other agencies. END COMMENT.

12. (U) NIH/Fogarty International Center Director Roger Glass, CDC
Acting Deputy Director Ileana Arias, and State Department/OES Senior
Advisor Nancy Carter-Foster cleared this cable.

BEYRLE

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