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Secretary Azar Attends Health Ministerial Meeting in Lima, Peru in Response to Health Impacts of Forced Displacement in the Region

“I look forward to discussing some of the specific health issues we face and how we can support each other. Most of all, I look forward to the day when the long-suffering people of Venezuela have emerged from this crisis, and we can work directly with Venezuelans to achieve a shared goal of health and prosperity for all.”—HHS Secretary Alex M. Azar II

On Tuesday, April 30, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar attended a health ministerial meeting in Lima, Peru entitled, “Strengthening Regional Coordination in Response to the Impacts of Forced Displacement.” This regional conference, attended by Peru’s Prime Minister Salvador del Solar, provided a forum for countries receiving displaced populations to continue high-level talks initiated in Washington, D.C. in November 2018, with the objective of coordinating efforts to standardize healthcare practices throughout the region. 

At the ministerial meeting, Secretary Azar delivered remarks at the opening session where he noted the U.S. government’s work with Peru and other countries to make the ministerial meeting happen because of the deep concern about the crisis created by the Maduro regime and its resulting public health effects in Venezuela and the region. In his remarks and throughout the day, Secretary Azar urged his colleagues to work together to help mitigate the health challenges arising from Venezuelans fleeing their own country and arriving in countries throughout the region with health issues that have worsened due to poor diet and lack of reliable access to medications and vaccinations.

With today’s events in Venezuela, he echoed the U.S. government’s solidarity with the Venezuelan people and expressed his hope that there will soon be a legitimate, democratic government in control in Venezuela, perhaps even quite soon and that we look forward to the day when the long-suffering people of Venezuela have emerged from this crisis, and we can work directly with them to achieve a shared goal of health and prosperity for all.

Also during the ministerial meeting, the Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Dr. Robert Redfield, delivered a presentation regarding the status of global health security in the Americas. During this portion of the meeting, Secretary Azar and Director Redfield stressed that the countries present need to work together to operationalize a common, integrated strategy to track health records for refugees and migrants, possibly similar to the international certificate of vaccination.

Towards the conclusion of the ministerial meeting, Secretary Azar participated in a panel discussion on the recommendations of the strategic planning group and next actions. He stressed the need to deliver solutions for three areas of mutual cooperation: infectious disease control, immediate healthcare access issues in countries receiving Venezuelan refugees, and healthcare transition planning for democratic restoration.

Directly following the ministerial meeting, Secretary Azar, U.S. Ambassador to Peru Krishna R. Urs, Director Redfield, Director of HHS Office of Global Affairs Garrett Grigsby, HHS Deputy Chief of Staff Brian Harrison, and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Kevin O’Reilly, participated in a bilateral meeting with Zulema Tomás, Health Minister of Peru, and Peruvian health officials. Secretary Azar congratulated Health Minister Tomás on hosting a successful ministerial meeting and especially for providing a forum to discuss the Venezuelan public health crisis. Both ministers reiterated a shared commitment to promote global health security in the region.

Additional information regarding Secretary Azar’s meetings and schedule will be forthcoming in news releases and social media posts. 

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Author: HHS Press Office

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