The Charge d’affaires John Creamer’s remarks Mexico–U.S. Symposium on Vision Health: Priorities and Opportunities for Bilateral and Regional Engagement in Scientific and Public Health
Good afternoon to all of you. Thank you very much for giving me the opportunity to welcome you to this Vision Health Symposium.
Our U.S. Embassy in Mexico City is extremely pleased to host this first bilateral meeting together with the National Eye Institute at NIH, the Mexican Institute of Ophthalmology and the Mexican Society of Ophthalmology, of course, with the support of many distinguished institutions including the Ministry of Health of Mexico.
I think one of the things that certainly has come out of the whole COVID experience, is really the importance for international collaboration in the health field. All of you, of course, knew that before the pandemic but for people who work at the State Department and others that might not be involved in the health sector on a day to day, a week to week basis, this is really an eye opener to underscore the importance of building these links across the border because, as you know, one can never be sure where the health emergency will suddenly appear.
I think that’s one of the good things which we will take out certainly at the Embassy. We are always blessed to have a Health Attaché, Doctor Marinissen, but it’s something we want to field on, and expand, and move it forward.
I give my special thanks to all the attendees and especially to Licenciada Martha Caballero, Doctor Irma Zamudio, and Doctor Michael Chiang for their leadership and support on this initiative.
While preparing for this virtual event, I was stunned to learn that more than two billion people around the world suffer from vision impairment and blindness and yet, for more than one billion of them, their visual impairment could have been prevented if they have had access to the care they need.
It was even more striking to know that women, the elderly, people with disabilities, ethnic minorities, and indigenous populations are among the most vulnerable groups; and that many of these conditions could be solved or could have been solved by simply having access to glasses, low cost surgery, or the chance to see an eye doctor on regular basis. Unfortunately, our two countries are not an exception to these conditions.
And that is why I’m particularly pleased we can host this group of world-wide renowned scientists and experts to explore how we can join efforts through bilateral action to address our common challenges and to support global efforts in vision health.
The Biden administration has made clear from day one that international collaboration to advance global health and science-based decision-making are top priorities.
With this decision, United States reaffirms its commitment to work with our friends and allies around the world to promote health, and advance a global agenda that promotes health security. A clear signal of that commitment was the United States’ prompt return to the World Health Organization as a member.
As neighbors, partners, and friends, our bilateral relationship goes far beyond our common border, as we share long and solid cultural, social, economic, and people to people ties. As such, the security and prosperity of our two great countries are intrinsically linked.
Last week’s phone call between President Biden and President López Obrador underscored the importance of our cooperation on a range of bilateral and regional issues, and underscored the importance the United States attaches to its relationship with Mexico.
We know health is an essential component of our shared security and prosperity. The ongoing pandemic has shown us diseases know no borders and we need to tackle health threats through joint action to ensure the health and wellbeing of our citizens, and that of our region.
Pandemics create acute crises but the impacts of chronic health issues caused by lack of investment in science and modern technologies, as well as inequality in access to health care, are long term problems. The only way to address them is if our governments, academia, and civil society work together to find scientific solutions, provide treatment options, and ensure access to health care.
I applaud your joint efforts to find ways to address the common challenges in vision health of our countries, and to serve as a model of collaboration and science diplomacy for the rest of the world.
I would also like to thank the chairs of this symposium, Doctors Marinissen, Prakash, Lansingh, and Jimenez-Roldan for promoting this important bilateral engagement.
I’m proud our Embassy can support this bilateral effort and I must confess I have personal motive participating as well, my wife is optometrist, who has worked throughout the region and actually she’s a graduate of the Politécnico here in Mexico City, even though she’s from Nicaragua.
Any way, again, I’m proud our Embassy can support this bilateral effort and cannot wait to learn about the outcome of this meeting. Les deseo éxito porque sé que de aquí surgirán excelentes iniciativas, para contribuir a la salud visual de nuestros pueblos. ¡Muchas gracias y éxito!