Health Minister Advances Canadian Health Interests in the United States
HIV/AIDS, drug shortages, and childhood obesity all on the agenda
WASHINGTON, DC, July 26, 2012 /CNW/ - Federal Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq returned from Washington, D.C., today where she represented Canada this week at the XIX International AIDS Conference, and met with senior U.S. officials to address other important health issues for Canadians.
"It was a powerful experience to meet with people whose lives had been changed thanks to Canadian efforts in fighting HIV and AIDS," said Minister Aglukkaq. "Canada is seen as a world leader by many, and our government is proud to make significant investments as part of a global effort to create an AIDS-free generation."
For the first time ever, HIV in Aboriginal populations was part of the main conference program, thanks in part to the work of the Government of Canada and the Canadian Aboriginal AIDS Network.
In her opening remarks to the session, Minister Aglukkaq reiterated the importance of reducing the rates of HIV infections among Aboriginal peoples and the need for all countries with Indigenous populations to work together and share best practices to make real progress, faster.
"In the lead up to the 2014 AIDS Conference in Melbourne, Australia, I encourage the International AIDS Society, UNAIDS and my global counterparts to bring Aboriginal and Indigenous issues to the forefront of their conversations around HIV and AIDS," said Minister Aglukkaq.
The Minister also provided opening remarks, alongside her U.S. counterpart Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, at a regional session dedicated to addressing the ongoing HIV and AIDS epidemic in Canada and the U.S.
"The United States and Canada have a lot in common, and there is so much that we can learn from each other - whether it's the latest scientific research or the best educational approach for underserved communities. That's why these joint sessions, where we can bring our brightest minds together, are so important," said Secretary Sebelius.
The Minister met with representatives from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, with whom Canada has a partnership, to accelerate the development of a globally accessible HIV vaccine. This meeting reaffirmed each partner's ongoing commitment to the Canadian HIV Vaccine Initiative.
The Minister also had productive meetings with representatives from other HIV and AIDS organizations, including the International Indigenous Working Group on HIV and AIDS, UNAIDS, and the International AIDS Society.
In addition to participating at the AIDS Conference, the Minister met with the leaders of First Lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move! campaign to end childhood obesity in the U.S. The meeting was an opportunity to learn about the U.S. experience addressing childhood obesity and promoting healthy weights, and to discuss challenges and successes in these areas.
The Minister also toured the facilities at CentroNia Childcare Centre, a multicultural learning organization that has applied Let's Move! programming, to see first-hand its innovative work regarding food, nutrition and exercise.
Finally, the Minister met with Dr. Margaret Hamburg, Commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), to discuss regulatory issues of mutual interest. They reviewed progress being made on health-related initiatives under the Canada-U.S. Joint Action Plan that will better align Health Canada and FDA processes aimed at improving efficiency and safety. As well, Minister Aglukkaq and Dr. Hamburg shared information and lessons learned about the international problem of drug shortages and the measures both countries have put in place to address the issue.
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SOURCE PUBLIC HEALTH AGENCY OF CANADA