Dr Rochelle Walensky, Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), recently visited Thailand’s top institute specializing in infectious diseases. The visit aimed to commemorate the 190th anniversary of Thai-American diplomatic relations and the 43rd anniversary of public health cooperation between the two nations.
Thai Deputy Prime Minister and Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul, as well as US Ambassador to Thailand Robert F Godec, accompanied Dr Walensky on her visit to the Bamrasnaradura Infectious Diseases Institute.
During her visit, she observed a patient isolation room that was built in 2003 to treat Thailand’s first SARS patient, Dr Carlo Urbani. This facility was developed after Dr Urbani, a WHO physician who first detected the virus in Hanoi, Vietnam, exhibited symptoms of SARS himself while in Bangkok. He fought the disease for 18 days in the makeshift isolation room at the institute before passing away on March 29, 2003.
Ambassador Godec noted long-standing public health cooperation between the US CDC and the Thai Ministry of Public Health, which has focused on preventing and containing various epidemics such as HIV, malaria, dengue fever, the Zika virus, and influenza for over 40 years. He also highlighted the CDC’s largest offshore office in Thailand, which has helped address various health issues, including during the global pandemic. Additionally, the office assists in disease surveillance, investigations, contact tracing and control in Bangkok and its vicinity.
Dr Walensky acknowledged that past cooperation in responding to public health emergencies demonstrates the strength of the partnership between Thailand and the United States. She further emphasized the continued importance of working together and developing health security to ensure a safer and healthier life for Thais and people around the world. (NNT)