US-Polish health agreement "historic" says Polish Health Minister

An agreement signed on Friday between Poland and the USA on biomedical science is the first such agreement signed with the US by a free Poland, Health Minister Łukasz Szumowski has said, calling it "a historic event."

Łukasz Szumowski and US Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar sealed an agreement on cooperation in biomedical research in Washington on Friday. It is a framework agreement under which more detailed cooperation contracts can be concluded with specific Polish academic institutions and American institutions such as the National Institute of Health.

The agreement concerns cooperation with the US Department of Health in the field of medical research and exchange of medical knowledge, Szumowski highlighted during a meeting with Polish journalists in Washington on Friday.

"The agreement with the USA will help in achieving one of my priorities, which is the establishment of a Clinical Research Agency and development of biomedical science," the minister noted. He went on to explain that thanks to the agreement, Polish biomedical science and Polish scientists will gain a huge opportunity for development and access to resources of knowledge, experience and scientific research which American institutions have at their disposal.

Under the agreement, the fields of cooperation concern development of joint research, training and activities aimed at diseases fought through vaccinations and other contagious diseases, tuberculosis, pandemic flu, and chronic diseases, in particular diseases of the circulatory system, malignant tumours, diabetes, respiratory diseases and dementia as well as mental illnesses.

The Polish health minister also announced that he had talked to Alex Azar about a stipendium programme starting in the autumn for Polish researchers and doctors. Within the framework of the programme, a total of 100 people will take part. "They will be able to work in the best scientific and medical centres in the USA," the minister told PAP.

Asked if the agreement would facilitate Polish research centres' cooperation with private American institutions such as universities and the biomedical laboratories of US pharmaceutical firms, the minister replied: "certainly, yes," because the agreement "shows that cooperation between the Polish and US governments is very good in this field, which will certainly facilitate cooperation with universities." Szumowski went on to note that "most scientific research in the medical field is currently conducted by centres of the National Institutes of Health, based in Bethesda, near Washington, which are not university centres, but research centres of the federal government.