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Opinion Piece Calls For Enhanced U.S.-Russia Health Collaboration

While legislators in Moscow attempt to reform the Russian health system in a way that is “strikingly similar” to the reform process in the U.S. and “[g]iven the importance of the U.S.-Russia relationship … our two countries have a historic opportunity to expand our health collaboration and, in so doing, improve our diplomatic ties,” former U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, who is a member of the Center for Strategic and International Studies’ (CSIS) board of trustees, writes in a Foreign Policy opinion piece.

Though collaboration “is already underway,” both countries “can and should continue to do more,” Frist writes. He notes his recent discussion at CSIS with Nikolai Gerasimenko, vice chair of the Duma’s Committee on Health Protection, which identified similar challenges that both countries face. Frist also describes possibilities for collaboration, including “how to best leverage our mutual efforts to support global health programs in those countries most affected by infectious diseases such as HIV, tuberculosis, and malaria. The Obama administration recently committed to billions in donations in this area, and Russia is emerging as a significant global health donor as well.”

“Health collaboration is a surprisingly powerful foreign-policy tool and one where U.S. and Russian interests converge,” according to Frist. “I urge Secretary [of State Hillary Rodham] Clinton and Foreign Minister [Sergei] Lavrov to commission in the coming months a joint organizing committee charged with prioritizing issues, laying down a timetable, and agreeing upon some early concrete products,” he writes (Frist, 9/11).