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St. Louis Hospitals to Assist Latvia

June 28, 1995

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Hillary Rodham Clinton launched a new health care initiative Wednesday, but unlike her domestic effort of a year ago, this one is much smaller, far less expensive and an ocean away.

At a ceremony in the East Room of the White House, the first lady witnessed the signing of an agreement of cooperation between hospitals in St. Louis and Riga, Latvia.

She said the partnership agreement represents ``a way to bring the best possible medical care to the women and children″ of the Baltic nation.

``It is the kind of relationship and effort we should be doing all over the world,″ Mrs. Clinton said. ``It is a helping hand and not a handout.″

Latvia’s first lady, Aina Ulmane, said the new effort ``will be a major contribution to the health of our mothers and children.″

The initiative, which is supported by the U.S. Agency for International Development, grew out of the visit the first lady made with President Clinton last year to Riga, Latvia’s capital.

She said that she was told during a luncheon conversation of the challenges facing the Latvian health care system in the aftermath of the country’s independence in 1992 after 52 years of military occupation by the former Soviet Union.

Mrs. Clinton said the resulting agreement should help both countries and ``represents the spirit of cooperation and volunteerism so needed today.″

On the American side, the new partnership involves The Jewish Hospital of St. Louis, the Barnes-Jewish-Christian Health System and the Washington University School of Medicine.

In Riga, participating medical facilities include the City Maternity Hospital, the State Hospital for Children and Bicur Holim, the Riga Jewish hospital.

The effort is being implemented by the American International Health Alliance Inc., which has established 30 hospital partnerships in the formerly communist nations of Europe.

The focus of the effort in Latvia will be on women’s health, infectious diseases and the improvement of hospital management, quality assurance and the expanding role of nurses.

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