Remarks by AIT Director Christopher J. Marut at the opening of the 17th International Conference on Emerging Infectious Diseases in the Pacific Rim

17th International Conference on Emerging Infectious Diseases in the Pacific Rim:
Emerging Viral Diseases: Recovery and Control
January 26, 2015

AIT Official Text #: OT1502

Dr. Ong Chi-Huey, Dr. Chen Jian-ren Dr. Patrick Brennan, Dr. Aikichi Iwamoto, Secretary-General Takashi Hamada, Mr. Gray Handley, Dr. Steve Kuo, ladies and gentlemen, good morning.

On behalf of the American Institute in Taiwan and my colleagues from the U.S. National Institutes of Health, it is my great honor to participate in the opening of the 17th International Conference on Emerging Infectious Diseases in the Pacific Rim, held under the auspices of the U.S.-Japan Cooperative Medical Sciences Program.

The United States and Japan established this groundbreaking health sciences partnership in 1965 with the objective of expanding joint cooperative research in biomedical sciences and improving public health and research capacity in the Asia-Pacific Region.

Over the years, as the program has evolved to address changing regional public health priorities, it has generated outstanding science and fostered the exchange of ideas and expertise on complex and urgent medical topics.  We are delighted to see that the program continues to attract and engage ever greater numbers of scientists from throughout the Asia-Pacific region and the United States.

We are gratified by the hospitality extended to us today by Academia Sinica, Taiwan’s Ministry of Health and Welfare, and other Taiwan institutions that have been involved in the lengthy planning of this conference with my U.S. colleagues and their Japanese counterparts.  The close collaboration our institutions have enjoyed in planning this conference is indicative of the cooperation the United States, Taiwan, and Japan enjoy on health and other issues that affect the prosperity, and resilience of the broader Asia Pacific region.

As democracies, developed economies, and research and technology centers, Taiwan, Japan, and the United States have a special responsibility to demonstrate leadership and share expertise on issues that shape the lives and livelihoods of the region’s people.

Our contributions to the region can also serve as a platform for further cooperation.  This past year saw the global community come together in response to a devastating and frightening Ebola outbreak in West Africa.  The United States worked closely with Taiwan, Japan, and other regional partners to support the global response treatment and prevention efforts.

Recognizing that everyone has a part to play in safeguarding the health of a globalized 21st century world, Taiwan has made significant efforts to contribute to international health and health science – by engaging with international health organizations; by hosting its own international events, such as the Global Health Forum that it convenes each fall; and by committing resources in support of joint programs such as the emerging infectious disease conference I have the honor to help open today.

The United States is proud to partner with Taiwan and Japan in this conference.  Recent events demonstrate the importance of focusing on emerging and re-emerging viral infectious diseases both in the Asia Pacific region and across the globe. We greatly appreciate the work all of you here today do to improve our understanding of the challenges, opportunities, and science needed to address these and future critical public health challenges.

I look forward to following up on the outcomes of this important meeting, and I offer you all best wishes for an engaging and productive conference.

Thank you very much.