Secretary Michael R. Pompeo with Aishath Shaany of Raajje TV

29 Oct

Michael R. Pompeo, Secretary of State

Male, Maldives

QUESTION:  Welcome, sir.  Thank you for joining Raajje TV.

SECRETARY POMPEO:  It’s great to be with you.  Thanks for having me with you.

QUESTION:  How has your trip been?

SECRETARY POMPEO:  It’s been great.  Too short, but wonderful to come visit here in the Maldives.  It was very kind of the president to invite me, and I’ve very much enjoyed the visit.  I think we’ve advanced the relationship between our two countries greatly.

QUESTION:  And what do you think the trip signifies?

SECRETARY POMPEO:  So I think – something that I’ve spoken with the foreign minister about when the new government came into office, I told him I would come – I wanted to talk about the things that we could work on together, the remarkable partnership.  We announced today that we’ll have a U.S. embassy here, which we’re very excited about.  The first time in history that we’ll have a permanently stationed American diplomat here to continue to build out what’s been a really important security relationship, an important diplomatic relationship, and of course, a deep economic relationship between our two countries as well.  And the also good work that democracies do together.  These are the kinds of thing where democratic countries who believe in transparency and the rule of law can work on together for the benefit of both peoples when a democracy can’t do that with an authoritarian regime.

QUESTION:  Another (inaudible) during this time where COVID-19 pandemic is going everywhere.  I wanted to ask some questions about that, especially since small island states like Maldives require great financial assistance to overcome the many challenges, and Maldives was – the tourism sector, which was the most beneficial in the country, was on a standstill and is kind of still on a standstill if we really think about it.  So we need financial assistance, such as debt relief.  So is – will the U.S. be providing essential assistance for the country?

SECRETARY POMPEO:  We spoke with both the president and the foreign minister about this today.  We’ll certainly do our part to make sure the Maldives has a chance to get through this very difficult time.  This thing has impacted – this virus came from Wuhan, China, and impacted the whole world.  Your economy depends heavily on tourism; people can’t travel.  We want to do all the things that help get you – certainly debt relief to help get you through and delaying payments, but importantly, the United States is leading the world in assistance.  We provided $3 million and many, many ventilators here to the Maldives.  We’re working to get a vaccine; I’m hopeful we’ll have the vaccine before too terribly long.  All of the things that innovation, creativity, and democracies can deliver to the world, the United States is doing.  It’ll benefit not only the people of Maldives, but people throughout the region as well.

QUESTION:  And I’d like to go back a bit far in the past, to back in 2018.  U.S. was very critical of the then administration, especially after a controversial supreme court – Maldives 2018, in February 2018, and there were calls to restore democracy and people’s rights.  So how do you feel about the country, where the Maldives is at right now?

SECRETARY POMPEO:  The people of Maldives have taken a great turn we’re excited about that.  It’s allowed us to build out a relationship.  We wouldn’t – if we didn’t believe that with all our heart, we wouldn’t be putting an American embassy here.  So we’re excited about that.  We’re excited about the improvement in the lives economically for the people, we’re excited in the advances that are being made for the fundamental rights, including women here in the Maldives.  These are important things, and this government is working hard to implement those things that I think the people here care about and the United States cares about too.

QUESTION:  Okay.  And being a small island state, we were disheartened about United States position to withdraw from the Paris Agreement.  Do you believe that this was the right move?

SECRETARY POMPEO:  Yeah, absolutely.  The Paris Agreement’s a joke.  The countries that have signed onto it have no intention of actually complying with it.  If you look at what China, for example, has done, it’s the biggest polluter in the region.  It presents the greatest threat to the people of Maldives and their economy.  If you want to look to the greatest risk for increasing the amount of CO2 in the air, you need look no further than Beijing and its surrounding environments.

Contrast that with the United States, that we withdrew from the Paris climate agreement, but we in spite of that have reduced our CO2 emissions dramatically.  Look, we did it the way democracies do it: we did it with creativity, did it with innovation, and we did it because it made sense for our people to do.  This is how we solve problems, and it’s why it was such an important visit.  Two democracies working for a shared vision – this is how we’ll handle things like changes in weather patterns, it’s how we’ll handle all of the elements of our relationship.  Every strand in the security relationship, things that matter to the people of Maldives, will work better when they work alongside a good friend like the United States and a fellow democracy.

QUESTION:  Your announcement today about an embassy being opened shows that the relationship between both countries is strengthening.  So how do you see it growing in the future, especially with the embassy?

SECRETARY POMPEO:  So there are so many different pieces of it.  I always think that the best thing democracies do together is they unleash the capacity for their citizens to create and innovate.  So that’ll be Americans who come here and want to invest, they want to help build countries – or companies and do joint ventures with companies from the Maldives.  And we’ll have students, I hope, that want to come to the United States and study and then return here.  We see this with our security relationship too, where officers from your services come and train in the United States.  These are the kind of things that we can build out true, strong relationships, make our countries both stronger and more capable.

QUESTION:  Is there anything you would like to add before we conclude?

SECRETARY POMPEO:  No, I think it’s really important to watch as the democracies in the region are beginning to work together.  I think it’s something that was underappreciated for so long.  So whether it’s the Maldives working closely with India, or working closely with Japan and South Korea, the United States, Australia, Indonesia – all the democracies of the region working together, I am very confident that we will leave our citizens in the next generation better off than they are today.

QUESTION:  Thank you, Mr. Secretary, for joining us.  And I know this was a very short trip, so I hope you get to come back and enjoy the Maldives more.

SECRETARY POMPEO:  I would welcome that very much.  Thank you for having me with you today.

QUESTION:  Thank you very much.  Thank you.


Launch of the NCD Investment Case for the Russian Federation: Prevention and control of non-communicable diseases as a catalyst of economic growth and social well-being in Russia

29 Oct

Scaling up efforts on the prevention and control of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) can avert over 4.3 million deaths and yield RUB 8.1 trillion (USD 105 billion) in economic benefits in Russia over the next 15 years – suggest the results of a recent analysis by WHO and UNDP under the United Nations Interagency Task Force on NCDs. These immense benefits can be achieved through investment in five proven and cost-effective intervention packages recommended by WHO to address the major NCD risk factors.  

The analysis, presented at the 4th All-Russia Forum on Public Health, highlighted that NCDs exert a significant economic, social, and sustainable development toll on the Russian Federation every year. NCDs are the leading cause of mortality and disability and are accountable for 87% of all deaths in the country. It is estimated that an average person in Russia has a 25% risk of dying prematurely (i.e. before the age of 70) from one of the four main NCDs – cardiovascular diseases, cancer, diabetes, and chronic respiratory diseases. In 2016, 1 635 000 people in Russia died from NCDs while still in their prime productive years. The effects of such losses go far beyond the health sector and hinder Russia’s broader development priorities of increasing human capital, reducing poverty and inequality and strengthening inclusive economic growth. The investment case report shows that in 2018 alone, NCDs cost the Russian economy around 3.9% of GDP, with 86% of all costs stemming from indirect losses linked to premature mortality and reduced productivity of workers.

However, most of the socio-economic damage from NCDs is preventable. The results of the analysis show that by scaling up the national NCD response, the Russian Government can continue to improve the situation in the country. 

The analysis assessed five cost-effective intervention packages within the Russian Federation: four policy packages to reduce the prevalence of behavioural risk factors for NCDs – tobacco use, harmful use of alcohol, physicalinactivity, and excessive salt consumption – and one clinical intervention package to address cardiovascular diseases and diabetes. The results show that implementation of these packages can significantly reduce the burden of NCDs and increase people’s well-being and quality of life while also accelerating economic growth. The return on investment is expected to far exceed the required costs and be as high as 50-fold over a 15-year period in the case of some interventions. In addition to these returns, the Government can expect to receive revenues from increasing taxes on health harming products - tobacco, sugar-sweetened beverages, and alcohol – which is part of the recommended intervention packages.

“Economic growth, equity, demographic security – nearly all facets of sustainable development are affected by the NCD burden in Russia. These investment case findings – and the real progress made to date – confirm that Russia is on the right path, but the pace needs to be increased to meet the 2030 targets.” Dudley Tarlton, Programme Specialist, Health and Development, UNDP

The analysis conducted by the WHO/UNDP joint programme under the UN NCD Task Force can be used to facilitate multi-stakeholder engagement and promote a whole-of-government, comprehensive approach to tackling NCDs in Russia. It takes into account the country’s institutional and social context and contains a diverse range of compelling evidence-based arguments that could be used to appeal to a broad range of stakeholders, both in the public and the private space.

The Government of Russia has already demonstrated strong commitment to strengthening the prevention and control of NCDs, and the Ministry of Health's strategic goals under Presidential Decree No. 204 of 2018 include several NCD-related priorities. The Russian Federation also supports other countries in their efforts to tackle NCDs, for example through the WHO/UNDP joint programme on catalyzing multisectoral action on NCDs.

"The Russian Federation continues to demonstrate outstanding leadership on the prevention and control of NCDs at national, regional, and global levels. We are happy that the comprehensive analysis conducted by UNIATF can inform Russia’s continued multisectoral and multistakeholder efforts to address NCDs and other health-related SDGs."  Dr Svetlana Akselrod, Director, Global NCD Platform, WHO

The analysis prepared by the Task Force confirms the importance of such commitment and advocates for further scale up of Russia's national NCD response to improve health and wellbeing of millions of Russian people while enhancing economic growth and prosperity for millions more.


Young people and digital health interventions: working together to design better

29 Oct

WHO and partners launch new guidance on designing digital health interventions with and for young people.  

Digital tools are an increasingly popular approach to improving health worldwide – particularly among adolescents and young people, who are accessing the internet at earlier stages of life.  

Youth-centred digital health interventions is a new framework developed by WHO, HRP, UNESCO, UNICEF and UNFPA. It provides guidance on effective planning, development and implementation of digital solutions with and for young people to address the many health challenges they may face as they grow into adulthood. 

Meaningful youth engagement at every step  

The 2019 WHO Guideline for recommendations on digital interventions for health system strengthening advises that digital health interventions adapt the way they transmit information to specific audiences in order to improve the health and well-being of the people they were designed to reach.  

This is critical when working with young people, who still encounter considerable resistance to being viewed as equal and valuable partners in programme design and delivery. This is true even when it comes to programmes, strategies, policies, funding mechanisms and organizations that directly affect their lives.  

The new framework includes a list of “do’s and don’ts” for engaging young people in the process of digital health design and delivery, based on consultation with young social media influencers, health content and intervention developers, health advocates, educators, and current or future health professionals.  

Young people are the experts on their own health needs, the technologies they use and how they access information,” said Dr Lianne Gonsalves, technical officer in the WHO Department of Sexual and Reproductive Health and Research, who led the development of this guidance. 

Youth-centred digital interventions is a pathway to collaboration: trusting young people, learning from them and paying them for their work. As well as being essential for successful solutions, meaningful youth engagement empowers young people to evolve from beneficiaries, to partners, to leaders.” 

Learning lessons from the first generation of youth-centred interventions 

Aligning with a growing body of WHO digital health guidance, the new framework builds on important lessons learned from the first generation of youth-focused digital health interventions.  

Instead of standalone websites and SMS-based pilot programmes that are not integrated into existing health infrastructure, the new guidance notes that solutions should complement and enhance existing digital and non-digital tools already in the health system.  

The next generation of digital health designers, developers, researchers and funders can use the framework to learn from the experiences of experts in the field – missteps, course corrections and successes – and better meet young people’s diverse health needs.  

WHO and the future of digital health 

With the right approach and effective investment, digital health tools have the potential to transform health services and help to achieve universal health coverage. 

WHO has a growing suite of digital health tools which can help countries effectively put into place, scale-up, maintain, and evaluate the impact of digital health interventions. 

Youth-centred digital health interventions is a companion to the recent Digital Implementation investment guide: integrating digital interventions into health systems (also known as the DIIG). This step-by-step tool from WHO and partners was developed to help ensure that investments in digital health are effective, sustainable, and equitable, and implemented in ways that are appropriate for the local context. 

The DIIG and the youth-centred framework are underpinned by the same core steps for digital health intervention development,” said Dr Garrett Mehl, scientist in digital innovations and research at the WHO Department of Sexual and Reproductive Health and Research including HRP. 

Used together, these tools can enable meaningful youth engagement, responsible investment and long-term good governance for digital health interventions – ultimately ensuring that every young person has access to the health care, information and education that is right for them.” 


Secretary Michael R. Pompeo And Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi

29 Oct

Michael R. Pompeo, Secretary of State

Jakarta, Indonesia

Ministry of Foreign Affairs

MODERATOR:  Ladies and gentlemen, the joint press statement will now start.

FOREIGN MINISTER MARSUDI:  Your Excellency Secretary Pompeo, colleagues from the media, ladies and gentlemen.  Secretary Pompeo, dear Mike, welcome back to —

SECRETARY POMPEO:  Thank you very much.

FOREIGN MINISTER MARSUDI:  — Jakarta.  It is always an honor for me to have you back in Indonesia after your last visit two years ago.  We value your visit amidst this challenging time of pandemic.  It reflects your strong commitment to enhance bilateral relation with Indonesia.  The U.S. is a strategic partner for Indonesia, a partnership that is based on many shares values such as democracy, human rights, promoting tolerance and diversity, and respect for rules of law.  It is a partnership between equals, this our mutual respect and mutual benefit.

Colleagues from the media, Secretary Pompeo and I met on an important day today.  Muslim around the world celebrate Mawlid al Nabi Muhammadsalla Allaahu ‘alayhi wa salaam – the birth of Prophet Muhammad.  My meeting with Secretary Pompeo went very well and productive in a very transparent and cordial environment.  I reiterated the principle of free and independent foreign policy of Indonesia.  I re-emphasized the need to pursue inclusive cooperation amidst this challenging time, and I underlined the need for every country to be part of the solution in the collective contribution toward world peace, stability, and prosperity.

On bilateral side, we agreed to enhance our strategic partnership by amplifying our shares values and interests while respecting our differences.  We agreed to promote cooperation on health sector.  I thank the U.S. Government for the cooperation with Indonesia during the pandemic, including through provision of 1,000 ventilators.  I also reiterated the importance of building national and regional health resilience as the U.S. could play major role to support this effort.

We agreed to strengthen economic cooperation, particularly to strengthen global supply chain and expedite economic recovery.  In this regard, I underlined again the importance of GSP facilities that not only bring benefits for Indonesia, but also for U.S. businesses.  I encourage U.S. businesses to invest more in Indonesia, including for projects in the outer islands of Indonesia, such as in Natuna Island.

On defense cooperation, our minister – Indonesian Minister of Defense has visited the U.S. this month and met with various U.S. counterpart, including the U.S. Secretary of Defense.  In the meeting, they agreed to enhance defense cooperation, including by strengthening defense capabilities and military procurement to achieve minimum essential force, training and exercises, intelligence sharings, and maritime security cooperation in the region.  With regard to people-to-people contact, we agreed to deepen mutually understanding between our two countries, and in this regard I encourage the finalization of the Memorandum of Understanding on education.  And I raised issue on visa for Indonesian students that has been on hold due to COVID-19 pandemic.

On the regional multilateral aspect, I raised the importance of strengthening multilateralism that brings benefit to all countries.  I mentioned the commitment of Indonesia and ASEAN in maintaining peace, stability, and prosperity in the region, as clearly reflected in the ASEAN foreign ministers’ statement on the 8th August 2020.  For more than 50 years, ASEAN have played a very significant role in maintaining peace and stability in the region.  We are committed to promote the Indo-Pacific cooperation that is open, inclusive, transparent, and rules-based.  I share a number of activities we are pursuing in developing a platform to promote dialogues and cooperation under the ASEAN outlook on the Indo-Pacific.

We discussed the situation in the South China Sea.  For Indonesia, South China Sea should be maintained as a stable and peaceful sea.  International law, in particular UNCLOS 1982, must be respected and implemented.  Therefore, any claims should be based on universally recognized principle of international law, including UNCLOS 1982.

We discussed the issue of Palestine.  I mentioned that this issue is close to the heart of Indonesian people.  I reiterated Indonesian position of the issue, including the principle of the two-state solution.  Also, we agreed to strengthen cooperation on the UN peacekeeping operation, including empowerment of female peacekeepers.  And as a reflection of our commitment to PKO, I give one example that Indonesia is ready to maintain its navy vessel in Lebanon for another six months.

And last but not least, we discussed also our collaboration in Afghanistan.  We appreciate the leadership of U.S. to bring peace in Afghanistan, and Indonesia stands ready to contribute more, in particular on the issue or issue related to women empowerment.

Now I would like to invite Secretary Pompeo to share his remarks.  Mike, you have the floor.

SECRETARY POMPEO:  Thank you very much.  Madam Minister, thank you.  Hello, everyone.  It’s great to see you again, and it’s wonderful to be back here in Indonesia.  I visited here early in my tenure as Secretary of State, but once was certainly not enough.  Good to be back.  It was important for me to return to keep strengthening this foundational, pivotal relationship in Southeast Asia.

And Madam Minister, I want to say to you how much I’ve appreciated your engagement on the Afghanistan peace process.  You mentioned this at the end of your remarks – indeed, the world’s largest majority-Muslim country has much to offer Afghanistan on its road to peace and making sure that every Afghan, men and women, have all the rights to which they are rightly deserving.

We had a very productive set of discussions today.  Of course we started by talking about what’s affecting everyone in the world today, the pandemic that started in Wuhan.  I want to assure the Indonesian people that we’ll get through this difficult time together.  We’ve been proud to provide roughly $11 million in U.S. Government assistance, part of the more than $20 billion the United States has pledged around the world of public and private money for the global COVID response.  This is by far the most in the world.  We continue to stay very focused on this important global issue.

But perhaps more importantly, the American private sector is doing everything it can do to produce an effective vaccine and therapeutics to beat this terrible virus, to the benefit of both of our peoples and indeed to the world.  Look, it’s very natural that we work together.  As I’ll elaborate on it in my speech later today, our deeper, longer-term bonds unite us as friends.  We are vibrant, diverse democracies, and we honor religious freedom.  We respect freedom of the seas, sovereignty, and the rule of law.  These are shared visions for the world.  Today, Foreign Minister Retno and I affirmed the importance of keeping our shared values at the heart of our relationship and at the heart of a free and open Indo-Pacific.

Look, this starts with our economic ties.  We agreed that the two nations with economies the scale of ours, the size of ours should be doing much more trade together.  There should be much more investment here from the United States, especially in the digital, energy, and infrastructure sectors.  I’ll do my best to help deliver that.  A few weeks back now, the head of our Development Finance Corporation was in conversations, too.  We are poised to use that American tool to promote private sector investment that can support President Widodo’s plans to spend $327 billion on more than 250 infrastructure projects.

But as I say in most every country looking to create wealth for its people, the private sector needs the right incentives before it can jump in.  Indonesia’s reform agenda is helpful in this regard.  We hope you’ll keep taking steps to cut red tape, eliminate corruption, and increase transparency.

We spent time, after talking about the economy, on security.  Our law-abiding nations reject the unlawful claims made by the Chinese Communist Party in the South China Sea, as is clear from Indonesia’s courageous leadership on the subject within ASEAN and at the United Nations.  It’s a cause worth pursuing in multilateral settings, and the Trump administration very much supports this.  We also welcome the example Indonesia has set with decisive action to safeguard its maritime sovereignty around the Natuna Islands.  I’m looking forward to cooperating together in the new ways to ensure maritime security and protect some of the world’s busiest trade routes.

Now, two decades of cooperation on counterterrorism also reflect our capacity to work together to import democratic values in our two countries.  Indonesia has long been a model for prosecuting the fight against terrorism and has done so in a way that didn’t trample on civil liberties, and I urge the continuance of that approach.  I also commended Indonesia’s strong example for the region in its gracious reception of the range of refugees here and to its shores.

On behalf of President Trump and the American people, we are grateful for Indonesia’s bonds of friendship and freedom.  Let’s keep working on this to strengthen them.  Thank you very much, Madam Minister.

FOREIGN MINISTER MARSUDI:  Thank you.  Thank you very much, Mike.