CHENNAI: Good afternoon Dr. Kurpad, Dr. Mohan, and all those involved in the prevention of non-communicable diseases here in India and worldwide.
It is my great pleasure to participate in this important seminar hosted by the Madras Diabetes Research Foundation – and to honor Dr. Kurpad of the St. John’s Research Institute in Bangalore.
This seminar is an excellent example of the international health partnerships forging the way to address global health challenges.
I have had the honor to be invited by Dr. Mohan to several MDRF seminars over the last two and half years, and at this point – I think I can be accurately labelled a “MDRF groupie!”
As this group of professionals is well aware, the health of a country is linked to the health of its people. Health is a priority for both the United States and India and one of the key pillars of our strategic partnership.
The United States and India not only work closely together to combat communicable diseases and malnutrition, but we are partnering on a wide-ranging initiatives to counter the concerning trend of a marked increase in chronic non-communicable diseases (NCDs), to include diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, cancers, and mental illness.
This last September, President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama, a champion of diabetes prevention domestically, hosted Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Mrs. Gursharan Kaur at the White House and discussed the importance of our cooperation in global health security. Our U.S.-India health cooperation encompasses multiple initiatives such as:
- the completion of 25 years of the Vaccine Action Program, a collaborative research venture between our two countries;
- the establishment of the Global Disease Detection India Center, announced by Prime Minister Singh and President Obama in November 2010;
- the proposed collaboration between the Department of Biotechnology of India and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services on stem cell regenerative medicine research;
- and the collaboration between the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Indian Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on Diabetes Research.
Specifically in the areas of diabetes, our U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and India’s Health and Family Welfare Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad signed a joint statement in June 2012, to begin a formal research relationship between the National Institutes of Health and the Indian Council of Medical Research to accelerate efforts to better understand the mechanisms underlying diabetes, and to identify innovative solutions to prevent and treat the disease.
Since my arrival in 2011 as Consul General in South India, I have had the opportunity to see first-hand the robust U.S.-India health partnership at work at the local level.
Just last week, we welcomed to Bangalore U.S. Nobel Laureate and Director of the U.S. National Cancer Institute Dr. Harold Varmus where he met with a number of health professionals to discuss cooperative efforts in cancer research, prevention and treatment and he emphasized the need for greater global collaboration.
And our National Institutes for Health currently funds over 40 research grant projects in South India ranging across shared health challenges like HIV/AIDs, cancer, diabetes, mental health and nutrition, among others.
Among NIH’s long-standing partners in the South are the Madras Diabetes Research Foundation and St. John’s Research Institute.
These grants bring together our countries’ foremost health professionals and I’m really pleased that also here at this seminar tonight are our U.S. medical professionals and academics from the Florida International University, University of Alabama, Birmingham, and University of Minnesota.
I commend you all for your important work in expanding knowledge and education for preventing and controlling non-communicable diseases.
I am certain that your efforts to expand awareness for the prevention of these diseases now will benefit our future generations who deserve a healthy life.