Ambassador Osius’s Opening Remarks at the Inauguration of the Vietnam Emergency Operations Center

Thank you, Minister Tien, Vice Minister Long, Dr. Phu, the World Health Organization (WHO), the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the U.S. Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA), everyone joining us by DVC, and ladies and gentlemen.

I am honored to be here today for the inauguration of a facility that we all know is critically important to protecting the health of the Vietnamese people: the Vietnam Emergency Operations Center.

Recognizing that the Ministry of Health, the U.S. CDC in Vietnam, DTRA and other partners in the U.S. have been working tirelessly over the past two years to enhance the EOC, this inauguration is a key milestone among many more to come.

It is an example of 20 years of the U.S. and Vietnamese governments working closely together, committed as partners, to build upon a foundation that led to the Comprehensive Partnership and the recent Global Health Security Agenda which will shield the health of the Vietnamese people and global citizenry from the potential spread of harmful diseases.

As we have seen recently from the Ebola epidemic in West Africa and with the past SARS and influenza outbreaks, infectious disease outbreaks can cause irreparable devastation that – inflicts a huge death toll on families, endangers communities, exhausts economic resources, and threatens the health security of nations.

With increasing globalization of travel and trade, the risk of the spread of diseases increases like never before. Threats existing on the other side of the planet are now a mere plane ride away.

This is why we’re here today.

And this is why the United States has and is partnering with Vietnam to prioritize investment in Vietnam’s EOC and in the Global Health Security Agenda. The United States is prepared to dedicate its time, effort, resources, and expertise to support the Government of Vietnam on all levels – communes, districts, provinces, regional institutes, ministries, and of course, trung ương – to reach this important goal.

The Vietnam EOC is not just a room with lots of fancy equipment. It is a room where we can connect to each other within the country, to the U.S., and across the planet to prevent diseases more effectively, to detect diseases earlier, and to respond to disease outbreaks more quickly.

The Vietnam EOC serves as the central unit of the Vietnamese government in its daily monitoring of diseases, both infectious and non-infectious, and in its management of public health emergency outbreaks.

Our organized, joint effort, allows the Vietnam EOC to identify international public health emergencies early and to prevent them from spreading to Vietnam, the region and the rest of the world.

While speaking of strengthening government-to-government ties, I’d like to direct our attention to critical people-to-people ties, too.

In this room alone, with representatives of the four regional institutes, we have an extraordinary amount of technical expertise and talent.

We have subject matter experts in laboratory, information and emergency management systems; in disease surveillance; and in field epidemiology.

We have our international partners, such as the World Health Organization, who continue to provide international leadership and support.

But, naturally, some challenges in reaching our goals lay ahead. The Government of Vietnam with the U.S. and other partners want to exchange and channel the knowledge and skills in an effort to coordinate them to move forward in the same direction.

I have seen you do it before in the past, combating SARS and pandemic H1N1 influenza. You are the experts.

So, cố lên. Carry on. Increase your focus on collaboration and figure out how we can find synergies to better protect the health of the Vietnamese people. They say “it takes a village to raise a child.”

It will take many nations, working together, to secure the health and future of all of our children.

The vitality of Vietnam’s economy is only as secure as the collective health of our people and that is why Global Health Security is so important. Global health security means safer nations and more stable economies.

The U.S. government, with support from the U.S. CDC, the U.S. Defense Threat Reduction Agency, and members of the international community is committed to partnering with the Government of Vietnam to make Vietnam, and the world, a safer and healthier place.

Again, I want to thank you all for the work you have devoted to building the Vietnam EOC.

You all play critical roles and represent the collective, worldwide effort to enhance Global Health Security.

We can’t do it alone.

We are in it together.

And I look forward to the next twenty years in which a strong, prosperous and independent Vietnam that respects the rule of law and human rights remains an indispensable partner to the United States. Chúc mừng năm mới!

Cảm ơn. Thank you.