Viewing cable 05VILNIUS93
Title: Minister of Health Looks to U.S. for Continued

IdentifierCreatedReleasedClassificationOrigin
05VILNIUS932005-01-27 15:05:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Vilnius
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 VILNIUS 000093 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SECSTATE EUR/PGI FOR POMAINVILLE, EUR/NB FOR GERMANO, AND 
S/GAC 
COPENHAGEN FOR DANDO 
CDC FOR TIMOTHY HOLTZ 
 
SENSITIVE 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
 
TAGS: PREL PGOV TBIO SENV TSPL KPAO LH
SUBJECT: Minister of Health Looks to U.S. for Continued 
Cooperation in Combating HIV/AIDS and TB 
 
REF(s): 
 
¶A. VILNIUS 90 
¶B. VILNIUS 58 
¶C. VILNIUS 57 
¶D. 2004 VILNIUS 1548 
¶E. 2004 VILNIUS 1546 
 
 
SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED - NOT FOR INTERNET 
 
Summary 
------- 
 
1.(SBU) Ambassador Mull met with the new Minister of Health 
Protection, Zilvinas Padaiga, on January 26th as part of his 
tour of Lithuania's new cabinet (reftels).  The Minister 
demonstrated command of his new duties and clear vision for 
needed health reforms.  He will undoubtedly be a valued asset 
in efforts to combat HIV/AIDS and other health challenges in 
the region, including corruption in the pharmaceutical 
sector.  He was knowledgeable and graciously supportive of 
USG efforts to assist Lithuania in fighting emerging diseases 
and pledged support for encouraging health science 
cooperation. End Summary. 
 
Health Reform a Continuing Challenge 
------------------------------------ 
 
2.(U) Minister Padaiga quickly confirmed the Ambassador's 
suggestion that health reform is a tough job, requiring new 
ideas for reducing Lithuania's exceptionally high trauma and 
accident rates, as well as minimizing the flight of doctors 
to Western and Northern Europe. Despite only being on the job 
for one month, the Minister will present his action plan to 
the Government on February 1st, focusing on the need to 
restructure the healthcare system to reduce the number of 
hospitals and improve efficiency.  When questioned, the 
Minister identified cardiovascular health, mental health, 
alcoholism, and trauma from accidents as the major health 
problems afflicting Lithuanians.  He pointed out that trauma 
rates in Lithuania are the highest in Europe, including 
injuries from motor vehicle accidents often involving 
alcohol. 
 
3.(SBU) While acknowledging medical treatment as an area of 
needed improvement, the Minister specifically noted that 
public health and preventative measures are key to reduce the 
major causes of illness and injury.  Lithuania only spends 3% 
of its health budget on preventative measures and public 
education, risk reduction, and other programs.  Padaiga noted 
more than once that U.S. technical assistance and 
professional collaboration has been of essential importance 
in reforming healthcare. 
 
Impressive Attention to Corruption and HIV/AIDS 
--------------------------------------------- -- 
 
4.(SBU) The Ambassador expressed appreciation for the strong 
emphasis the Minister places on corruption and the success 
Lithuania has had in maintaining a low HIV prevalence rate. 
The Minister met with the Special Investigations Service 
within days of taking office to discuss options for creating 
a department within the Ministry to investigate corruption 
related to pharmaceuticals and other issues. 
 
5.(U) The Minister thanked the Embassy for its ongoing 
cooperation with the Lithuanian AIDS Center (under the 
Ministry) in training Lithuanian specialists.  The Minister 
is an old colleague of the AIDS Center Director and noted 
that he has been kept apprised of the situation as it has 
evolved over the past several years in Lithuania and the 
region.  He noted that HIV/AIDS cases are starting to turn up 
in rural areas, increasing the need for community-based 
educational programs.  The Ambassador also briefed the 
Minister on the extensive tuberculosis training and 
prevention program run by the CDC and suggested a face-to- 
face meeting in the future.  (Note: A FY04 SEED Act grant to 
the Lithuanian AIDS Center targets the training of doctors 
and public health specialists in Lithuanian's outlying cities 
and towns. The CDC also runs a vital program to train 
Lithuanians to detect, prevent, and treat TB in drug- 
resistant forms. End note.) 
 
Minister Pledges Health Science Cooperation, 
Assistance with Science and Technology Agreement 
--------------------------------------------- --- 
 
6.(SBU) The Minister discussed the great contributions to 
health science from the U.S. and the plentiful contacts 
Lithuanian doctors and researchers have with the U.S. Centers 
for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  Noting Padaiga's 
involvement in health science, the Ambassador discussed the 
efforts underway to conclude a Science and Technology (S&T) 
Agreement with Lithuania.  Padaiga assured the Ambassador 
that he would take up the S&T Agreement with the Minister of 
Finance and help include a Value-added Tax refund provision 
in the agreement (ref A). 
 
Comment: An Active Player 
------------------------- 
 
7.(SBU) Given his charisma and confidence, the Minister will 
undoubtedly play an influential role in the new cabinet. 
Labor party leader Viktor Uspaskich clearly picked a capable 
person for the job.  If Minister Padaiga's energy is any 
indicator, he will be able to have a beneficial impact on the 
high rates of disease and trauma afflicting many Lithuanians. 
As the Embassy's technical assistance programs in HIV/AIDS 
and TB will run through CY05, the Minister's genuine 
gratitude and support should aid program success.  His 
interest in health science and U.S.-Lithuania cooperation 
should help end the S&T Agreement stalemate. 
 
 
 
MULL