July 23, 2010
During her trip to Vietnam, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton "engaged in health diplomacy by visiting the Ngoc Lam Pagoda orphanage for AIDS-affected children," Foreign Policy's blog "Madam Secretary" reports.
"After meeting with the kids, she signed a partnership agreement with Vietnamese Justice Minister Ha Hung Cuong that provides a five-year plan of cooperation between Vietnam, the United States, and other stakeholders to effectively respond to HIV/AIDS in Vietnam. It also contributes funds to PEPFAR ... for prevention, care, and treatment" (Aroon, 7/22).
The agreement "provides a statement of mutual intention to reduce new HIV infections, improve HIV/AIDS prevention, care, and treatment services, and mitigate the impact of HIV/AIDS in Vietnam, while contributing substantially to fundamental health systems strengthening," according to a State Department press release. The main goals of the partnership include: "providing health and social services for most-at-risk populations, as well as strengthening the capacity and involvement of non-governmental organizations, multilateral organizations, and the private sector" (7/22).
During prepared remarks at the orphanage, Clinton said: "The AIDS epidemic is global and demands a global response. And here in Vietnam, through PEPFAR, the United States is providing life-saving AIDS treatment, medication assisted therapy, and critical health services. We are also supporting government programs, like what your ministry of health is doing, to strengthen services to prevent mother-to-child transmission. ... The United States is proud of this work, but now we want to take it to the next level, to transition from emergency measures to help Vietnam with building an enduring health system. And the framework we find today provides a roadmap" (7/22).
Also during her two-day visit to the country, "Clinton publicly pressed Vietnam to further open its political system amid concerns about the Communist government's crackdown on democracy activists and the Internet," the Wall Street Journal reports. "The United States will continue to urge Vietnam to strengthen its commitment to human rights and give its people an even greater say over the direction of their own lives," Clinton said. She is "visiting Hanoi both to commemorate normalized relations and to take part in a regional security conference involving Southeast Asian countries, China and Japan," the newspaper notes (Solomon, 7/22).
While at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Regional Forum, Clinton said President Barack Obama planned to invite ASEAN leaders to a summit in the U.S. "this coming autumn," Agence France-Presse reports. The Washington talks will follow the inaugural meeting that Obama held last year in Singapore with his counterparts from the Association of ASEAN.
"A key element of our strategy is to strengthen regional and global institutions," Clinton said. "We see ASEAN and the ASEAN Regional Forum as important pieces of a strong, effective architecture for security and prosperity in Asia. So we seek both to support these institutions and work more closely with them," Clinton said (7/23).
Also at the ASEAN forum, countries discussed a plan, proposed by Thailand, to expand collaboration on health, the Bangkok Post reports.
"The enlarged membership would enable member countries to take a look at a wider range of approaches including funding support essential to improving health conditions of the population and step up joint activities and cooperation in responding to outbreaks," said Public Health Minister Jurin Laksanavisit. But additional discussion among senior health officials is required before the proposal can be considered, he said (7/23).