International Health Issues

  • Brazil’s Signing of the Artemis Accords
    by Antony J. Blinken, Secretary of State on June 17, 2021 at 4:33 pm

    Antony J. Blinken, Secretary of State Recorded on June 4, 2021 Greetings from Washington. To President Bolsonaro, Minister Pontes, Minister França, and everyone gathered in Brasilia today – congratulations on Brazil signing the Artemis Accords. Brazil and the United States have a long history of cooperation in scientific discovery – including the exploration of outer space for peaceful uses. Now we will carry that partnership into a new era of space exploration working together. Building upon the legacy of the Apollo space program, the Artemis program – named after Apollo’s twin sister in Greek mythology – will land the first woman and the first person of color on the surface of the Moon. Together with international and commercial partners, it will establish the sustainable human exploration of the solar system. And it will allow us to develop the technology and experience necessary to mount a historic human mission to Mars. While the Artemis program will be led by NASA, it will be a truly international effort. And Brazil will be an important part of it. The Artemis Accords were written to be inclusive. It’s our intention to invest in space exploration and development in a manner that promotes our fundamental belief in democracy, the rule of law, science, transparency, human rights, and the economic value of fair trade and private enterprise. The Artemis program will also include public-private sector partnerships, ranging from delivering cargo to the lunar-orbiting Gateway station to producing the spacecraft that will land on the Moon’s surface. And while the Accords are a non-binding government-to-government commitment, we hope these principles will create an environment in space that’s conducive to robust commercial investment, development, and operations – to create a vibrant space economy producing the jobs and careers of the future. So on behalf of the U.S. government, let me say how pleased we are to welcome Brazil to the Artemis Accords. You join our existing partners from across the globe, as well as new signatories New Zealand and the Republic of Korea – all working to advance international cooperation for peaceful and responsible space exploration and activities. We hope that other space-faring nations will follow Brazil’s example and consider making their own commitment to the Artemis Accords and its principles. This is an exciting time – for our countries, for science, and for all of us who ever looked up at the night sky and wondered when the mysteries of space would be unlocked. Thank you for being on this journey with us, and congratulations.

  • Pride Month
    by Antony J. Blinken, Secretary of State on June 15, 2021 at 5:34 pm

    Antony J. Blinken, Secretary of State Recorded on June 4, 2021 Happy Pride, everyone! Pride is about equality… respect… justice… courage… and above all, love. It’s a time to celebrate the people in our lives and communities for who they truly are. And it’s a chance to recommit to the work of building a country and world where everyone belongs and everyone’s rights are respected, no matter who they are or who they love. The LGBTQI community – here at home and around the world – have been fighting for equality, for themselves and for others, for decades. Often, they do this in the face of violence, harassment, and stigma. In many places, being gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer, or intersex is still very dangerous. It’s up to all of us to come together and work together to change that. I’m proud of what the U.S. State Department does to advance equal rights and dignity for LGBTQI people around the world. And I’m deeply grateful for the contributions our LGBTQI colleagues make to American diplomacy and development every single day. You serve the United States with commitment and with skill. We’re a stronger country thanks to you. Happy Pride Month, everyone.

  • UN High Level Meeting on HIV/AIDS
    by Antony J. Blinken, Secretary of State on June 10, 2021 at 9:03 pm

    Antony J. Blinken, Secretary of State Recorded on June 4, 2021 Forty years ago this week, the CDC’s weekly mortality and morbidity report contained a short write-up on the cases of five young men who were treated in Los Angeles with what was described as a new form of pneumonia. Two died by the time the report was published; the remaining three died soon after. After the publication, reports of similar cases poured in from New York, San Francisco, and other U.S. cities. It was not known at the time, but these were the first official reports of what would later become known as AIDS. In the time since, an estimated 32.7 million people have lost their lives to AIDS-related illness globally, including 700,000 people in the United States. It’s a staggering number of lives lost. Each one of these individuals had loved ones, friends, and communities who mourned their loss. But as we gather, more than 38 million people are living today with HIV, including 1.2 million people in the United States. They are our colleagues, our neighbors, our partners and family members; people of all ages, races, faiths, nationalities. And thanks to the efforts of generations of brave leaders like Yana Panfilova, who we heard from in the opening plenary, fewer of these individuals feel they need to hide their status. We’re proud of the work the United States and partners around the world have done together to turn the tide in this epidemic. Since President Bush launched the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, PEPFAR, in 2003, we’ve invested more than $85 billion in this effort; helped save 20 million lives; prevented millions of HIV infections; and strengthened local health systems across 54 countries. Few initiatives in the history of American foreign policy have done so much to help so many people; it’s one of our proudest contributions to the international community. These investments have also helped keep Ebola, H1N1, and other deadly diseases from raging out of control. And they’ve been vital in the ongoing fight against COVID-19. As we all know, we’ve made these strides by working together across governments and multilateral institutions, as well as with advocates, scientists, community-based organizations, businesses, doctors, and educators. Yet despite the remarkable progress, our work is not done.  Enduring inequities continue to stand in the way of ending this epidemic. Inequities across and within our counties and communities; inequities along social, economic, racial, and gender lines. All of which have been worsened by COVID-19. If we fail to close these gaps, millions more people will acquire HIV, and millions more people now living with HIV will die. Ending AIDS is within our reach. But we cannot achieve that goal if we deny people’s sexual and reproductive rights, or foster discrimination against the very people who are the most vulnerable to HIV. That means ensuring equitable access to HIV services for all, particularly the populations most impacted by the epidemic: the LGBTQI+ community, people who use drugs, sex workers, racial and ethnic minorities, women and girls. Laws, policies, and practices that make it harder for these populations to access crucial services only increase stigma and put more lives at risk. And they cut against the core principles of the United Nations. Today, we look to our fellow member states to work with the United States toward ensuring all people have equal access to quality HIV services, regardless of who they are or who they love. We’ve made tremendous progress together in the 40 years since those first five cases were reported. Let’s build on our gains, recommit to reaching those still in need, and end the HIV epidemic for everyone, everywhere. Thanks for listening.

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