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Global Health Diplomacy on Display: Dr. Varmus and Indian Prime Minister Modi

, by Dr. Ted Trimble

India Prime Minister Narendra Modi meets with NCI Director Dr. Harold Varmus in New York City September 26, 2014.

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If you’ve visited this blog before, you’re likely already aware that the Center for Global Health (CGH) is NCI’s team responsible for coordinating and prioritizing activities to advance global cancer research.  We help other countries build their own technical expertise, as well as connect and leverage resources across nations to address the challenges of cancer and reduce cancer deaths worldwide.  We call this our “global health diplomacy.”

Diplomacy can’t happen without people, and a wonderful example of NCI’s and CGH’s global health diplomacy was on display during a meeting between NCI’s Director, Dr. Harold Varmus, and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New York, last week.   During their meeting, both leaders expressed interest in a variety of health-related topics, including global cancer research, vaccines, as well as the state of cancer research in India.  Dr. Varmus also shared stories of his apprenticeship with a mission hospital in Bareilly, Uttar Pradesh, India in the 1960s.  

I was particularly pleased to see recognition and support for NCI’s global efforts, as the White House released a US-India joint statement for collaboration discussed between President Obama and Prime Minister Modi.  Included in the statement was an agreement, in principle, to “initiate cooperative activities to increase capacity in cancer research and patient care delivery, including by developing collaborative programs for and with India's upcoming AIIMS-National Cancer Institute."  

The meeting between Dr. Varmus and Prime Minister Modi has brought attention to the importance of global health diplomacy.  Through collaborative meetings such as these, much of CGH’s best work takes place on a face-to-face and one-to-one basis, igniting interaction between people who share a common passion for reducing cancer deaths worldwide.   Our mission is rooted in coordination, collaboration, and communication – and Dr. Varmus and Prime Minister Modi certainly seemed to lay the groundwork for future collaboration.  

 The White House, Office of the Press Secretary. (30 Sept. 2014). U.S.-India Joint Statement

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