The three-day 6th George H.W. Bush China-U.S. Relations Conference held at Hotel ZaZa in Houston, Texas wrapped up Wednesday, May 13. The conference series continues to carry on the vision and legacy of its founder, President George H.W. Bush, of establishing better understanding, closer ties, and important collaborations between China and the United States in the 21st Century.
The decreasing but still threatening worst-ever Ebola virus outbreak in West Africa, with recent direct impacts felt in the United States, provided an even more topically urgent context for this conference, and the role China and the U.S. are playing in address of emerging global infectious diseases, epidemic threats and bioterrorism, provided a topical backdrop for this sixth conference’s theme: “Global Infectious Diseases: Prevention, Preparedness and Response,” which brought together government officials, scholars, medical clinicians, nonprofit representatives, entrepreneurs, and policy makers from China and the United States to update and expand the critical role China and the United States play in preventing, preparing for, and responding to emerging infectious diseases and pandemics globally.
In addition to plenary sessions featuring world leading physicians, scientists, policymakers, and government officials, the conference featured scientific and policy roundtable forums focused on developing specific action plans for expanding multinational research, development, and implementation.
Some 350 elite physicians, scientists, policymakers, government officials and business leaders attended the Houston gathering, and the plenary sessions scientific and policy roundtables provided a venue for participant think tanks to compare notes and share ideas regarding ways that in light of our current era of global connectivity, frequent intercontinental travel, China and the U.S. can collaborate on development of a global strategies for deploying new actions applying state-of-the-art technology and educational programs to mitigate widespread human suffering and economic and massive social disruption that can result from disease epidemics and potential pandemics involving the Ebola virus, MERS, influenza and other infectious diseases.
Principal goals for this 6th China-U.S. Relations Conference include provenance of a visible forum for exchanging information through interdisciplinary public dialogues and published proceedings of world-leading physicians, scientists, policymakers, government officials and business leaders.
A highlight in the conference schedule was Tuesday’s keynote address from Tom Frieden, M.D., MPH, Director, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), on the topic of the federal health agency’s global health security agenda and the critical role the U.S. and China are playing in responding to Ebola and preventing future health threats.
“Microbes respect no national boundaries, political affiliations or ethnicities,” said Brett P. Giroir, M.D., CEO of the Texas A&M Health Science Center, who in 2014 directed the Task Force on Infectious Disease Preparedness and Response. “Given today’s global connectivity, an epidemic anywhere will rapidly become a threat everywhere. We hope the Conference leads to tangible new actions that will substantially improve health and biosecurity around the world.”
In addition to Drs. Frieden and Giroir, several of the world’s most acclaimed scientists and policy makers delivered keynote addresses or led plenary panels, including: Cui Tiankai, Ambassador of the Peoples Republic of China to the United States of America; Rear Admiral Kenneth Bernard (USPHS, Ret.), Former Special Assistant to the President for Biodefense Policy; Julie Gerberding, M.D., MPH, Executive Vice President for Strategic Communications, Global Public Policy and Population Health, Merck, and the former director of the CDC; Robert P. Kadlec, M.D., former Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Biodefense Policy, Homeland Security Council; Peter Hotez, M.D. Dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine and Director of the Sabin Vaccine Institute Texas Childrens Hospital Center for Vaccine Development; Xu Kuangdi, President, China-U.S. People’s Friendship Association; Liu Qian, Vice Minister of the National Health and Family Planning Commission of the Peoples Republic of China; Xu Chen, President, Bank of China USA; Rajeev Venkayya, M.D., President, Global Vaccine Business Unit at Takeda Pharmaceuticals, Former Director for Global Health Delivery at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Special Assistant to the President for Biodefense Policy.
For more on the 6th George H.W. Bush China-U.S. Relations Conference and its slate of distinguished speakers, click here.