The week-long trip focused on deepening scientific and public health cooperation between the United States and Cuba.

HHS often has important visitors who are interested in our health initiatives and scientific research. But a group of visitors last month was most unusual. The HHS Office of Global Affairs hosted a historic delegation from Cuba: Vice Minister for Public Health José Angel Portal Miranda, along with health sector leaders and representatives from the Cuban embassy, met with HHS and Department of State officials for the first time since President Obama announced significant moves to normalize relations with Cuba.

The week-long trip, which included visits to NIH in Bethesda and then to CDC headquarters in Atlanta, focused on deepening scientific and public health cooperation between the United States and Cuba. Immediate areas of possible collaboration include expanding research, monitoring and responding to infectious diseases like Zika and dengue, and treating and addressing non-communicable diseases like cancer and diabetes.

While in D.C., the delegation had the opportunity to visit Mary’s Center, a federally-qualified health center.

“It is a beautiful institution,” said Dr. Jorge J. Marinello Guerrero, president of the Cuban Oncology Society and a delegation member. “We found a team of people that loved their work greatly and worked with lots of love for people, many of whom were people with limited resources—and that was really where they demonstrated the human aspect. It is the type of attention that we hope would reach everyone, and the type of attention we try to extend to all Cubans.

HHS Acting Deputy Secretary Mary Wakefield (left) and representatives from the Office of Global Affairs and the State Department welcomed Vice Minister Portal Miranda (second from right) and the Cuban delegation on the first day of the visit. Both countries have identified health as a priority area for collaboration. (Photo Credit: Christopher Smith for HHS

Vice Minister Portal Miranda  (center) and the Cuban delegation visited Mary’s Center, a federally-qualified health center in D.C. (Photo Credit: Mary’s Center)

In Atlanta, the delegation toured the Emergency Operations Center at the headquarters of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. From left to right: Ernesto Moseley, CDC; Dr. Disnardo Raúl Pérez González, general director of Cuba’s National Institute of Hygiene, Epidemiology, and Microbiology; Dr. Pastor Castell-Florit Serrate, director of Cuba’s National School of Public Health; Dr. Marinello Guerrero; Yanet Cárdenas, first secretary, Cuban Embassy; Dr. Nestor Marimón Torres, cooperation director, Cuban Ministry of Public Health; and Vice Minister Portal Miranda, Cuban vice minister for Public Health. (Photo Credit: Mark Fletcher for CDC)

NIH Director Francis Collins welcomes Vice Minister Portal Miranda, the highest level Cuban official ever to visit NIH headquarters in Bethesda. Vice Minister Portal Miranda talked with Dr. Collins and several institute directors, as well as toured the Vaccine Research Center. (Photo credit: Karin Zeitvogel for Fogarty International Center, NIH)

From left to right: Dr. Mitchell Wolfe, deputy assistant secretary for Global Affairs; Dr. Marinello Guerrero; Dr. Castell-Florit Serrate, director, Cuban National School of Public Health; Dr. Lorenzo Jorge Pérez Ávila, general director, Pedro Kourí Tropical Medicine Institute; Dr. Cristina Rabadán-Diehl, director, Office of the Americas, OGA/HHS; Ambassador Jimmy Kolker, HHS assistant secretary for Global Affairs; HHS Acting Deputy Secretary Wakefield; Vice Minister Portal Miranda; Dr. Pérez González, general director, Cuban National Institute of Hygiene, Epidemiology, and Microbiology; and Dr. Marimón Torres. (Photo Credit: Christopher Smith for HHS)

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