Hannes Richter

Minister Rauch-Kallat Visits the U.S.

Hannes Richter

During her visit to the United States from February 26 - March 3, 2005, the Austrian Federal Minister for Health and Women, Maria Rauch-Kallat, attended the 49th session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women in New York, prompted by the 10th Anniversary of the World Women's Conference in Beijing, China. The session was strongly represented by ninety-three high-ranking delegations from around the world. She addressed the UN Plenum on Austria's planned initiatives for 2006 and conducted bilateral talks with other delegates including Rigoberta Menchú, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1992.

In her speech at the UN Plenum of the Commission on the Status of Women, Minister Rauch-Kallat announced the priorities of the forthcoming Austrian Presidency of the European Union (EU) in 2006, which will, among others, focus on human rights and women's health. A declaration will be worked out regarding the topic of violence against women, including the practice of forced marriages and honor crimes, genital mutilation, stoning and human trafficking. These issues have also affected young Austrian immigrants.

On March 2, Minister Rauch-Kallat met with U.S. Secretary for Health and Human Services, Michael O. Leavitt, in Washington, D.C. The United States hopes to cooperate with Austria during its EU presidency by sending experts to the various meetings on women’s issues as well as to the scheduled conference on diabetes.

The Minister also attended a presentation at the Austrian Embassy by VAMED, an Austrian company specializing in building medical facilities. Also present was Patch Adams, an American physician, whose unconventional and innovative approach to health care was made famous through the Hollywood film, Patch Adams, starring Robin Williams. Dr. Adams spearheaded the project of clinic clowns which has in the meantime spread to many other countries around the world. At their meeting in D.C. he explored, together with the Minister and VAMED, the idea of building a hospital and healthcare community in Austria. For those interested, please refer to: www.patchadams.org