Nelson Arboleda, MD, MPH
Director, Americas Office
Office of Global Affairs
U.S. Department of Health & Human Services
Phone: (202) 690-6174, (202)-260-0399
OGA's Americas Office provides leadership and guidance on U.S. global health policy regarding Canada, Mexico, Central and South America, and the Caribbean. We foster key relationships with our global counterparts; represent HHS with foreign governments and ministries, the private sector, and civil society; and coordinate HHS engagement across the region. Our work supports information exchange, partnership, and diplomacy in order to create a safer, healthier world.
What We Do: A Snapshot
- The US Mexico Border Health Commission: Created as a binational health commission in July 2000, the USMBHC provides international leadership to improve health and quality of life along the U.S.-Mexico border.
- U.S., Venezuela, and Health: OGA and the Americas Office worked closely with the State Department to support the millions of refugees in the region who are fleeing the deplorable conditions inside Venezuela and the surrounding host countries who are taking them in. To increase coordination and to improve follow up, Secretary Azar initiated a series of high level meetings to bring Ministers of Health to discuss concrete action items to assist refugees. The first Ministerial meeting took place in Washington, DC at the historic Blair House in November 2018. Two additional meetings were conducted in Peru (April 2019) and Colombia (August 2019), with a third planned for Panama in March 2020. Several key topics have arisen as focus areas including vaccine preventable disease, mental health, HIV, malaria, and non-communicable disease. Great strides have been taken to move forward on these issues, including the launch of a Universal Vaccination Card on October 15, 2019.
- Canada: The US has a very strong and cooperative bilateral relationship on health with Canada. As neighbors, we face many of the same health challenges including the influx of opioids and increasing opioid use disorder, growing concerns about vaping and its public health impacts, expanding anti-microbial resistance, and the continuing importance of global health security. The US is fortunate to have a strong ally to the north to share information and lessons learned in forums such as the Joint Action Plan on Opioids and the Global Health Security Agenda. Rising drug prices are also a concern for both countries and we are committed to finding a way forward so both Americans and Canadians have safe and sustained access to medicines.
- Health Attachés: OGA and the Americas Office post and support health attachés in Brasilia and Mexico City. Health attachés are HHS's main point for global health diplomacy in their respective regions—they represent the United States in policy negotiations that could touch on the intersection of health and any number of sectors, including trade, security, or the environment; act as a resource for representatives of other U.S. agencies; and are the United States' first point of contact in the event of a health issue. For example, currently in Brazil, the health attaché liaises daily with our Brazilian counterparts on assessing and responding to the Zika virus. In Mexico, the health attaché and OGA support health and health policy issues, including a trilateral obesity initiative among the U.S., Canada, and Mexico, efforts to enhance health security, and scientific and educational collaboration between the U.S. and Mexico.