The United States and the United Kingdom today agreed to new joint health efforts, aiming at improved quality of health care as well as effective response against possible incidents of bioterrorism. Meeting in Washington, D.C., HHS Secretary Tommy G. Thompson and the U.K. Minister of Health, the Right Honorable Alan Milburn, M.P., signed two Joint Statements of Intent: one to collaborate on data and measurement regarding quality of care, and another regarding preparedness and response to bioterrorism. The signings took place at a session of the Commonwealth Fund's Fourth International Health Policy Symposium. Also represented at the symposium were the ministries of health of Canada, Mexico, Australia and New Zealand. At today's meeting, Secretary Thompson told the symposium that international partnerships will be essential in addressing both emergency health needs, like the challenges of potential bioterrorism, as well as global health threats including major infectious disease. "Disease does not respect national boundaries, and today's agreements can serve as a model for collaboration among nations on behalf of world health," he said. Under the quality agreement, the U.S. and U.K. plan to share data and experiences related to quality of care, including efforts to enhance the use of information technology, expand common criteria for measurement of quality of care, and achieve mutual quality research goals. Efforts will be aimed at improved monitoring and reporting, including reporting on medical errors and patient safety; improving primary care and cost effectiveness of care; and reducing disparities in the care available to patients. Under the agreement on bioterrorism, the two countries will carry out mutual efforts in emergency planning, including enhanced capacities for detection of biological incidents, prevention of mass casualties from any such event, and effective treatment for any disease inflicted deliberately. Areas of collaboration including joint scenario planning, disease surveillance and early diagnosis, treatment for novel diseases, appropriate vaccine capacity, and other appropriate measures. In their meetings, the health ministers also discussed future needs for multi-national health efforts to combat bioterrorism. Secretary Thompson and Minister Milburn are representing their countries at the two-and-a-half day Commonwealth Fund symposium, along with the Honorable Allan Rock, Minister of Health, Canada; His Excellency J. Julio Frenk, Secretary of Health, Mexico; Louise Morauta, Deputy Secretary (Acting), Department of Health and Aged Care, Australia; Ria Earp, Deputy Director-General of Maori Health, Ministry of Health, New Zealand. The focus of this year's Commonwealth Fund Symposium is on health care system reforms and improving access and quality of care for at-risk populations. Today's quality of care agreement grew out of the continuing work of a bilateral working group on quality health care first formed in 1997 under the aegis of the Fund and The Nuffield Trust, private foundations in the U.S. and U.K, respectively.