The United States and Russia continue to expand and advance their cooperation in health through the Bilateral Presidential Commission Health Working Group under the leadership of Kathleen Sebelius, U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services, and Veronika Skvortsova, Minister of Health of the Russian Federation. The Health Working Group fosters joint work on health challenges facing citizens of both countries and on improving global health, promotes collaboration between U.S. and Russian researchers in the areas of public health and medical science, and facilitates cooperation and exchanges between stakeholders in the United States and Russia.
Protocol of Intent on Disease Prevention and Control
On April 24, 2012, Dr. Thomas Frieden, Director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Dr. Gennady Onishenko, Director of the Federal Service for Surveillance on Consumer Rights Protection and Human Well-being of the Russian Federation (Rospotrebnadzor), signed a Protocol of Intent on cooperation in prevention and control of communicable and non-communicable diseases. The Protocol will support collaborative activities under the Bilateral Presidential Commission Health Working Group in the areas of healthy lifestyles and combating infectious disease.
The Protocol reflects a long history of scientific cooperation between the United States and Russia. Under the Protocol, the participants intend to continue their existing cooperation in the area of infectious diseases, particularly influenza and smallpox, through joint research projects on the strains of influenza circulating in both countries and related to the development of medical countermeasures for smallpox, including vaccines and antiviral drugs. Bilateral cooperation will include exchanging information, such as surveillance data; promoting joint research projects; conducting periodic consultations; and providing technical assistance and training to build capacity in the surveillance of communicable and non-communicable diseases. Our countries will also exchange surveillance data related to foodborne disease and collaborate on the most effective ways to prevent HIV and tuberculosis infection, particularly among the most at-risk groups.
In both Russia and the United States, non-communicable diseases like cancer and cardiovascular disease present great threats to health. Reducing tobacco use is vital to improving health and lowering the burden of non-communicable disease. Under the Protocol, the United States will share best practices with Russia for monitoring tobacco use and related indicators. This monitoring provides data to help design and implement efforts to inform the public about the dangers of tobacco consumption and exposure to tobacco smoke, as well as the benefits of smoking cessation and a tobacco-free lifestyle.
Cooperation in the Global Fight to End Malaria
Building on existing activities in the field of global health, the United States and Russia have agreed to cooperate in the global fight against malaria. This cooperation, under the auspices of the Health Working Group, will entail training and capacity building, evaluation, operational research, advocacy, and resource mobilization in support of national malaria control plans in countries in Africa and the Asia Pacific region. The United States and Russia will also explore joint participation or co-leadership on malaria control issues in international and national forums such as the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), the Global Roll Back Malaria Partnership, and regional or global health meetings.
The United States and Russia exchanged letters of intent on global malaria control cooperation and will sign a Protocol of Intent in 2012. The President’s Malaria Initiative, an interagency effort led by the U.S. Agency for International Development and implemented together with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, will coordinate efforts on behalf of the United States. For Russia, the Ministry of Health and the E.I. Martsinovsky Institute of Medical Parasitology and Tropical Medicine of the Moscow State Medical University will serve as coordinators.
An estimated 300 to 500 million people annually become ill with malaria, and about 800,000 die. Malaria is a leading cause of death of young children in Africa, and the threat posed by drug-resistant forms of the disease is growing. U.S.-Russia cooperation on malaria will save children, improve maternal health, reduce suffering, and promote economic development in countries that are still burdened with this disease.