Vice President Kamala D. Harris today launched the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Southeast Asia Regional Office in Hanoi, Vietnam, at a ceremony that included the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services, U.S. CDC Director, and Deputy Prime Ministers and Health Ministers from eleven countries. The new Regional Office strengthens CDC’s ability to meet its mission of protecting Americans and people of the region by responding more rapidly to health threats wherever they occur and building key relationships to tackle shared health priorities.
Vice President Harris reinforced the U.S. commitment to regional health security cooperation and renewed previous calls to action on pandemic preparedness and response.
“Through this office, we will work closely with our regional partners to share strategies and strengthen each other’s ability to prevent, detect, and respond to infectious disease threats, today and in the future. This achievement is the result of years of high-level cooperation between our governments. It also represents an important opportunity to come together to discuss our nations’ shared health security priorities,” said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra.
“CDC has a long-standing presence in Southeast Asia. Our longstanding partnership with the countries of the ASEAN [Association of Southeast Asian Nations] region has strengthened public health laboratories, emergency operations centers, surveillance systems – all tools that are being called upon during the current pandemic,” said CDC Director, Rochelle Walensky, MD. “This new Regional Office will build upon these existing partnerships and help us grow stronger together.”
CDC is uniquely suited to increase American engagement and collaboration with Southeast Asian leaders to enhance regional capacity to prevent, detect, and respond to infectious diseases and other emerging health threats. Priorities for the new regional office include building tomorrow’s public health workforce, expanding regional public health laboratory training, developing innovative programs to improve health for mobile and migrant populations, ensuring a coordinated response to public health emergencies through networked Emergency Operation Centers, and strengthening the early warning system for the detection of zoonotic and emerging infectious diseases.
John MacArthur, MD, is the new CDC Southeast Asia Regional Director. Prior to this appointment, Dr. MacArthur served as the CDC Thailand country director for more than six years. He has spent nearly half of his 23-year CDC career focused on improving health security in Southeast Asia including managing over $100 million of infectious disease funds focusing on the control of malaria, tuberculosis, dengue, Zika, influenza, and COVID-19. Dr. MacArthur also served as CDC’s Team Lead for the U.S. President’s Malaria Initiative, a $620 million per year program to control malaria in sub-Saharan Africa and the Greater Mekong Sub-region.
In addition to the Southeast Asia Regional Office, CDC also recently established Regional Offices in Eastern Europe/Central Asia (Georgia), the Middle East/North Africa (Oman), and South America (Brazil).