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Good morning, everybody. I’m pleased to join you for the Bureau of Medical Services’ 2023 Continuing Medical Education Conference.

As Secretary of State, I have no higher priority than ensuring the safety of Americans overseas – including the safety of our diplomatic community.

The professionals who make up our MED team – physicians, family nurse practitioners, physicians assistants, and registered nurses like you all, as well as doctors and other medical practitioners of all specialties across our Department – are crucial to that mission.

You’re an integral part of our embassy community, working across 170 countries to provide primary care and mental health services to our diplomats and their families. You’re our eyes and ears on the ground, serving to detect emerging outbreaks and other threats to health security facing our workforce and our citizens.

And you do this hard work in difficult places, and under demanding circumstances. Nowhere has this been more evident than in the vital role you’ve played throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

The numbers tell one part of the story: over 2,900 US government employees evacuated from places where rates of COVID transmission put them at the highest risk. More than 450,000 shots into arms, leading to a 97% vaccination rate across the State Department. And over 500,000 patients served annually for other medical needs, including mental health support like grief counseling and strategies to cope with stress, depression, and anxiety.

But the numbers don’t tell the whole story. Like your nimbleness in adapting to changing conditions on the ground…or your creativity in figuring out new ways to deliver care – by launching pop-up clinics, providing telehealth, and sending care packs to patients’ homes.

The numbers don’t show your compassion as you worked around the clock, even when you were exhausted yourselves…your patience and persistence in dispelling myths spread by misinformation and disinformation…your sensitivity in caring for the very ill, especially in the days before safe, effective vaccines were widely available.

Because of you, our Department has been able to weather and emerge stronger from the worst public health crisis in a century. And because of you, we’re able to lead with diplomacy in every part of the world and deliver results for our citizens, while taking care of our people.

So whether you’re one of the MED professionals at the conference, or watching from Main State or a post abroad…whether you’re in the Foreign or Civil Service…or one of our locally employed staff, contractors, or eligible family members, I want to say two simple words: thank you.

Thank you for making the time to continue your education, to share your lessons with one another, and to ensure we are ready to face the challenges of today and tomorrow.

And thank you for all you’ve done, and all you will continue to do, to save lives and keep our people healthy and safe. The work of American diplomacy would not be possible without you.

Have a great conference, everybody.

U.S. Department of State

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