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Remarks: Acting Deputy Chief of Mission Daniel Bischof at the TCTP Workshop on Disease Outbreak and Response
November 21, 2019

For Immediate Release
REMARKS (as delivered)

Acting Deputy Chief of Mission Daniel Bischof

Opening Ceremony of the Third Country Training Program (TCTP) Workshop on Disease Outbreak and Response


Good morning! It is a pleasure to be here today as we launch this joint United States-Singapore Third Country Training Program workshop on Disease Outbreak
and Response.

I’d like to give a warm welcome to the participants that we have from across ASEAN and Timor Leste.  Thank you for joining us this week.

I would also like to thank our colleagues at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the National Centre for Infectious Disease who have worked so diligently to put this training together.

Finally, this training would not be possible without the trainers and facilitators who have so generously stepped up to share their knowledge and expertise.

Thank you.

This is the third TCTP Disease Outbreak and Response workshop that we’ve hosted in collaboration with our Singaporean counterparts and the work that we will undertake together this week is vitally important.

A recent study by the Economist Intelligence Unit found that out of 195 countries evaluated, no country is fully prepared for a pandemic.

In the world of health security, tuberculosis is the leading infectious cause of death worldwide.

TB infected more than 10 million people in 2018, killing 1.5 million worldwide.  44 percent of those newly infected individuals call Southeast Asia home — that’s four million new cases of tuberculosis in this region alone.

Left untreated, more than half of those infected with TB will die.  The mortality rate for those with compromised immune systems is nearly 100 percent.

For those of us within ASEAN, our task of preventing, identifying and treating epidemics like tuberculosis is complicated by factors such as high population density and migration.

Half of the ten ASEAN member countries represented here today are home to cities that rank in the fifty most densely populated cities in the world.  The ease of travel and interconnectivity between countries further facilitates the transmission of the disease and compounds the difficulties in identifying, tracking, and treating people with TB as they move across borders.

As a diplomat, I have traveled the world and experienced all the benefits of living in exciting and different cultures — delicious food, beautiful music, and meeting new and diverse people.  But I’ve also lived in countries that struggle with tuberculosis.  I’ve seen how easily the disease spreads among a family when three or more generations live in a small home.  I’ve also witnessed immigrant visa applicants
struggling to treat tuberculosis so that they can be reunited with family members living in the United States.

Over the next five days, you will have the opportunity to learn from health professionals from across the globe as well as collaborate with fellow practitioners across ASEAN and Timor Leste to discuss approaches to preventing and treating TB.

Our goal is that you will leave this workshop better equipped to advocate for the implementation of best practices and that you will improve your preparedness in tackling the trans-boundary spread of this disease.

This issue is too big and complex for any one country to handle alone.  We stand strong with our Singaporean partners, with your countries and institutions, and with all of you to curb the spread of TB, to help people heal, and to strengthen health security in this vibrant and critical region.

Thank you.