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AFHSB's health surveillance program supports Defense Department global health engagement efforts

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Joshua Douglass, left, an aerospace medical technician, watches as Liberian health care workers properly put on their personal protective equipment as part response by the Defense Department operation to provide logistics, training and engineering support during the Ebola virus outbreak. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Terrance D. Rhodes) U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Joshua Douglass, left, an aerospace medical technician, watches as Liberian health care workers properly put on their personal protective equipment as part response by the Defense Department operation to provide logistics, training and engineering support during the Ebola virus outbreak. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Terrance D. Rhodes)

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Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch | Global Emerging Infections Surveillance | Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) Surveillance | Febrile and Vector-Borne Infections (FVBI) Surveillance | Enteric Infections (EI) Surveillance | GEIS Partners | Global Health Engagement

Both the U.S. Armed Forces’ operational posture and the emergence and spread of infectious diseases relevant to military operations have evolved in recent decades. Worldwide, people are more mobile and interconnected than ever before. At the same time, land use in the developing world is changing in such a way that long-dormant pathogens have the opportunity to re-emerge and become health problems for a significant proportion of the population again. These conditions threaten not only the health of populations, but also the security and stability of nations around the world.

The Defense Department has long recognized the link between global health and security, and its global health engagement efforts address the intersection of these concerns. Defense Department health agencies are primarily focused on protecting the health of the force and medical readiness, but their global health engagement efforts also address other security priorities for the U.S. government such as helping partner nations build health capacity, combatting global health threats (e.g., emerging infectious diseases and antibiotic-resistant bacteria), and supporting U.S. government humanitarian assistance and disaster relief initiatives.

The Global Emerging Infections Surveillance (GEIS) section of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch (AFHSB) supports global health engagement by leveraging a network of Defense Department laboratory partners that are positioned in critical locations globally and work with partner nations to combat infectious disease threats. Defense Department laboratories around the world execute coordinated, integrated surveillance efforts to detect and respond to febrile and vector-borne infections, respiratory infections, antimicrobial-resistant and sexually transmitted infections, and enteric infections regardless of the source. These efforts are conducted in more than 70 countries and serve to protect the health of a highly mobile force by informing risk assessments and countermeasure development, providing support to outbreak response efforts when they arise, and supporting operational access and freedom of movement in high-threat areas.

In support of the Defense Health Agency’s combat support efforts, the GEIS network’s ultimate goal is early, accurate detection of emerging infectious disease and rapid communication regarding those that potentially threaten the health of U.S. forces so that preventive measures can be taken to enable operational readiness and mitigate the risk of mission failure. Surveillance efforts are conducted in partnership with partner nation ministries of health and defense, thereby improving their health capacity by enabling rapid identification and response to infectious disease threats to their population and strengthening relationships with key U.S. partners. In this way, the GEIS program supports the U.S. geographic combatant commands (GCCs) in their areas of responsibility, advancing their campaign plans, lines of efforts, and end states. Additionally, by providing direct technical support to GCC-led international scientific coalitions and strategic engagement efforts, GEIS enhances Defense Department global health engagements and advances information sharing with partner nations. These activities ultimately better inform force health protection decision making at the GCCs and enable global health security for partner nations and U.S. government assets abroad.

Throughout December, in celebration of the Global Health Engagement Month, AFHSB will showcase some of the surveillance efforts conducted by GEIS’s laboratory partners around the world. These stories are available on DHA’s Global Health Engagement Spotlight page.

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USNS Comfort strengthens partnership with Jamaica

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Navy Cmdr. Sara Naczas, a nurse assigned to the hospital ship USNS Comfort, helps a boy roll his yo-yo at a temporary medical treatment site in Kingston, Jamaica. Comfort is working with health and government partners in Central America, South America, and the Caribbean to provide care on the ship and at a temporary medical treatment site, helping to relieve pressure on national medical systems, including those strained by an increase in cross-border migrants. (U.S. Navy Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Maria G. Llanos)

This marks the Comfort’s third visit to Jamaica

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Honduran MEDRETEs provide invaluable surgical, training opportunities

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Air Force Maj. Julia Nuelle, chief of Orthopaedic Hand and Microvascular Surgery at Brooke Army Medical Center, poses for a photo with a pediatric patient and her mother during a Medical Readiness Exercise in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. The team finished their mission by visiting their patients and delivering toys and coloring books to the hospital's pediatric ward. (Courtesy photo by Army Lt. Col. Lori Tapley)

MEDRETEs play a critical role in the training and readiness of military medical personnel

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Comfort strengthens partnership following successful medical mission

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Comfort strengthens partnership with Grenada

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This marks the first visit to Grenada and the seventh to the region since 2007

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U.S. builds bonds in Papua New Guinea

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Navy Lt. Austin Stokes, (right), and Air Force Maj. Nicole Smith (center), both dentists, talk to a patient at the Pacific Angel 19-4 health outreach site in Lae, Papua New Guinea. The health outreach site is comprised of five clinics including primary care, optometry, dental, physical therapy and pharmacy. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jerilyn Quintanilla)

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Electronic Surveillance System for the Early Notification of Community-Based Epidemics (ESSENCE)

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USNS Comfort completes medical mission in Peru

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The hospital ship USNS Comfort (left) receives a fuel probe from the Peruvian ship B.A.P. Tacna during replenishment-at-sea practice. Comfort is working with health and government partners in Central America, South America, and the Caribbean to provide care on the ship and at land-based medical sites, helping to relieve pressure on national medical systems strained by an increase in Venezuelan migrants. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Morgan K. Nall)

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Influenza

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Vice President Pence tours USNS Comfort before its Latin America deployment

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Vice President Mike Pence (right) greets Navy Lt. Gwendolyn Mann, and his wife, Karen Pence (center right), greets Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Edna Wallace during a tour of the USNS Comfort in Miami, June 18, 2019. (U.S. Navy photo by Seaman Jordan R. Bair)

The vice president called the deployment a lifesaving mission

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German allies visit JBSA-Fort Sam Houston on 75th anniversary of D-Day

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Maj. Gen. Gesine Kruger, Commander for the German Bundeswehr Medical Academy (pictured center in the Flight Paramedic Training Simulator) and her delegation observed training and toured the Critical Care Flight Paramedic Course at the Health Readiness Center of Excellence. (U.S. Army photo)

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AFRICOM holds annual Command Surgeon Conference

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The conference brought together medical professionals from across the command, and interagency and foreign partners, to enable collaboration and discuss areas of concern

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Cyclosporiasis

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