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Secretary Leavitt Travels to the People's Republic of China to Check Up on Efforts to Improve Product Safety
Date:5/12/2008

2008 Summer Olympics, HIV/AIDS and Pandemic Influenza Initiatives Also on the Agenda

WASHINGTON, May 12 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Mike Leavitt is visiting the People's Republic of China this week to strengthen bilateral efforts to improve the safety of products on which consumers in both nations depend every day.

The week-long trip to Beijing and Shanghai includes meetings with senior Government officials from China's Ministry of Health (including the State Food and Drug Administration) and from China's General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine; remarks to prominent Chinese and U.S. business leaders; discussions of joint efforts to advance public health; a review of preparations for the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing; and a lesson in the study and practice of Traditional Chinese Medicine.

"Our countries share a strong commitment to enhancing the safety of food, drugs, medical devices and consumer goods. I look forward to building on that foundation to find new ways to achieve that common goal," Secretary Leavitt said. "At the same time, we both face a number of other significant health problems, including the spread of HIV/AIDS and the potential for a pandemic influenza. I am hopeful that the relationships we are building can help us work together to address these challenges as well."

In Shanghai, the Secretary will deliver remarks to executives and suppliers of the Target Corporation from across Asia, to update them on U.S. efforts to enhance product safety as well as to remind them of the significant responsibilities the private sector has in producing safe goods. He will also tour the Port of Shanghai, China's largest port.

In Beijing, Secretary Leavitt and Commissioner Andrew von Eschenbach of the HHS Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will meet with top Chinese health officials to advance joint product-safety efforts. They plan to review implementation of two recently signed Memoranda of Agreement in this area. Another topic will be plans to establish eight, full-time, direct-hire HHS/FDA positions, along with five locally employed staff, in China as part of the HHS/FDA "Beyond our Borders" program.

On Dec. 11, 2007, Secretary Leavitt and Chinese health officials signed two Memoranda of Agreement that outline areas in which the two Governments will work jointly to improve the safety of food, feed, drugs and medical devices exported from China to the United States.

The initiatives are a product of President Bush's Interagency Working Group on Import Safety, which Secretary Leavitt chaired. In November 2007, the group presented the President with the group's Action Plan on Import Safety. The plan contains short- and long-term recommendations for continuing to improve the safety of products that enter the United States.

With the 2008 Summer Olympics fast approaching, Secretary Leavitt will meet with Chinese officials to review food safety preparations for the Games. For more than a year, HHS/FDA officials have been providing technical guidance in this area. During his time as Governor of Utah, the Secretary worked extensively on the 2002 Olympic Games in Salt Lake City.

During this third visit to China as HHS Secretary, he will also examine efforts to mitigate a potential pandemic influenza and to alleviate the HIV/AIDS epidemic through President Bush's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). In addition, Secretary Leavitt will spend some time at the Traditional Chinese Medicine University in Shanghai to learn about the delivery of health care in the world's largest nation.

Note: All HHS press releases, fact sheets and other press materials are available at http://www.hhs.gov/news.


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SOURCE U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Copyright©2008 PR Newswire.
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