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Leaders take world view to enhance health readiness

Army Maj. Elizabeth Polfer (left), an orthopedic surgeon at William Beaumont Army Medical Center in Texas, performs hand surgery with her Honduran counterpart in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, during a Regional Health Command-Central Global Health Engagement Medical Readiness Training Exercise. (U.S. Army photo by Maria Pinel) Army Maj. Elizabeth Polfer (left), an orthopedic surgeon at William Beaumont Army Medical Center in Texas, performs hand surgery with her Honduran counterpart in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, during a Regional Health Command-Central Global Health Engagement Medical Readiness Training Exercise. (U.S. Army photo by Maria Pinel)

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Increasingly, ensuring a medically ready force and a ready medical force requires thinking and acting globally, Defense Health Agency leaders say. 

“The bottom line is that worldwide health security is an essential part of U.S. national security,” said Tom McCaffery, principal deputy assistant secretary of Defense for Health Affairs. “Global health engagements reduce risks to our own armed forces while fostering the mission capability of our partner nations’ forces. Together, we can continue working effectively to defend global interests.”

Dr. Terry Adirim, deputy assistant secretary of Defense for Health Services Policy and Oversight, touched on global health engagements in November during a session at AMSUS, the Society of Federal Health Professionals. Adirim highlighted U.S. military medical partnerships with Uganda on HIV education and health promotion; and with France, which will manufacture freeze-dried plasma for use by U.S. armed forces.

"Global health threats are destabilizing," she said, "and global health activities yield dividends." 

Here's a look at a few Department of Defense global health engagements for 2018:

The Air Force International Health Specialist Program, comprised of physicians, dentists, nurses, industrial hygienists, and other medical professionals, focuses on building medical capabilities of partner nations during peacetime, said Air Force Col. Wesley Palmer, a physician and the program director. From disaster response to medical logistics, IHS members use their skills to meet the specific needs in their assigned region.

Health care professionals from military treatment facilities under Regional Health Command-Pacific partnered with U.S. Indo-Pacific Command and U.S. Army Pacific to support blood safety efforts in Cambodia. The U.S. team assisted in improving the collection, manufacturing, and storage of blood products and opened two blood donor centers.

The hospital ship USNS Comfort embarked on an 11-week medical assistance mission to Central and South America as part of the U.S. Southern Command's Enduring Promise initiative. The U.S. medical team worked with partners in Ecuador, Peru, Colombia, and Honduras to help relieve pressure on host nation medical systems. The mission marked the sixth time the hospital ship has provided medical assistance in the region. During the past decade, the Comfort has visited 18 nations in the Caribbean, Central America, and South America, working with host-nation and civilian partners to provide medical treatment to nearly 390,000 people.

A three-person dental team from Regional Health Command-Pacific traveled to the Republic of Palau to work with local counterparts to enhance the operational and deployment readiness skills for the dental team. Palau coordinated and funded the misson, the first such mission in four years.

U.S. Air Force Special Operations Command global health engagement advisers trained soldiers in Niger during a combat casualty care exercise. Comprised of active duty, Air National Guard, and Air Force Reserve airmen, the team was part of Exercise Flintlock 2018.

Thirteen Navy Medicine trauma members completed an eight-week medical readiness exchange program with Vietnam. An emergency room physician, critical care physician, orthopedic surgeon, anesthesiologist, critical care nurse, emergency room nurse, and surgical technicians worked alongside their Vietnamese counterparts to provide medical care and share trauma-management skills. They participated in over 300 surgical cases and assisted in the care of over 550 complex emergency room and intensive-care patients, among other accomplishments. 

“True operational readiness requires partnership the world over,” said Capt. Carlos Williams, director of the Navy Office of Global Health Engagement. “The key to readiness is preparation, and preparation requires that team members are ready to face not only the challenges we know, but be resilient and agile to face the ones we do not.” 

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Navy Lt. David Cruz, Southern Partnership Station 2018’s Fleet Health Engagement Team officer-in-charge, speaks with a Trinidad and Tobago military professional as part of functional exercise Red Fish aboard a TTO coast guard vessel during Southern Partnership Station 2018. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Katie Cox)

The U.S. Navy’s Global Health Engagement missions are inherently collaborative

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Hospital ship USNS Comfort returns home after completing mission

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Family and friends of crew members aboard Military Sealift Command’s hospital ship USNS Comfort wait as the ship pulls into Naval Station Norfolk, Dec. 18. Comfort returned to Virginia after completing its 11-week medical support mission to South and Central America, part of U.S. Southern Command’s Operation Enduring Promise initiative. (U.S. Navy photograph by Brian Suriani)

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Navy entomologists team up to build disease detection capacity in Honduras

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Bringing Comfort 2018

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The USNS Comfort is a state-of-the-art hospital ship, and it’s scheduled to deploy to Central and South America for Continuing Promise 2018.

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Sailors, Afghan medical professionals team up to improve medical care

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Navy Lt. Cdr. Travis J. Fitzpatrick, senior nurse for Kandahar Airfield NATO Role III Multinational Medical Unit, demonstrates a technique on how to clear the airway of a patient to Afghan medical staff members during a medical advisory visit at Kandahar Regional Military Hospital, Camp Hero in Kandahar, Afghanistan. Staff members from the Role III conduct routine visits to KRMH to train and advise Afghan medical staff. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Neysa Canfield)

The Kandahar Regional Military Hospital is run by Afghan military and civilian medical professionals

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USNS Comfort to deploy to Central and South America

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The U.S. Navy hospital ship USNS Comfort is scheduled to depart Naval Station Norfolk, Virginia, en route to South America and Central America where it will conduct an 11-week medical assistance mission working closely with host-nation health and government partners in Ecuador, Peru, Colombia, and Honduras. This mission marks the sixth time the hospital ship will provide medical assistance in the region and reflects the United States’ enduring promise of friendship, partnership, and solidarity with the Americas. (U.S. Navy file photo)

The ship’s crew will include more than 200 U.S. and partner nation military doctors, nurses and technicians

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Navy Medicine global health team conducts trauma exchange in Vietnam

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The 13 Navy Medicine members stand together on the first day of the Integrated Trauma and Medical Readiness Exchange engagement in Vietnam. (U.S. Navy photo by Capt. Joel Roos)

Sharing trauma management skills was the focus of this exchange

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U.S. doctors save Italian patient hours from death

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USNS Mercy returns home following Pacific Partnership 2018

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Navy Hospital Corpsman Tianna Garcia, assigned to Naval Medical Center San Diego, is greeted by her husband Aaron Garcia during the homecoming ceremony for the hospital ship USNS Mercy. The ship and her crew completed a five-month humanitarian relief mission to Southeast Asia. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Indra Beaufort)

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U.S. Navy, JMSDF participate in bilateral training exercise

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Military doctors conduct infectious diseases training in Panama

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Publio Gonzalez, a biologist with the Gorgas Institute, holds a bat in Meteti, Panama. Gonzalez and U.S. military doctors were participating in infectious diseases training, in which they received informational lectures from Panamanian infectious disease experts and field studies of possible virus-carrying wildlife and insects. The event took place during Exercise New Horizons 2018, which is a joint training exercise where U.S. military members conduct training in civil engineer, medical and support services while benefiting the local community. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Dustin Mullen)

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Project Sea Raven delivers cutting-edge pathogen detection technology

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Air Force medical team supports exercise in Panama

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Air Force Master Sgt. Emeriles Curry, 346th Expeditionary Medical Operations Squadron dental hygienist, provides dental care to a local man in the Coclé Province of Panama. To date, in 2-weeks’ worth of Medical Readiness Training Exercises, the teams working in conjunction with the Panamanian Ministry of Health, have seen nearly 4,700 patients. The medical team is participating in Exercise New Horizons 2018, which is a joint training exercise focused on medical, civil engineer and support service personnel’s ability to prepare, deploy, operate, and redeploy outside the United States. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Dustin Mullen)

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USNS Mercy arrives in Vietnam for Pacific Partnership

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The hospital ship USNS Mercy anchors in shallow water during a Pacific Partnership stop. (PP18). PP18’s mission is to work collectively with host and partner nations to enhance regional interoperability and disaster response capabilities, increase stability and security in the region, and foster new and enduring friendships across the Indo-Pacific Region. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Cameron Pinske)

Pacific Partnership is the largest annual multilateral HA/DR preparedness mission conducted in the Indo-Pacific

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Airmen contribute to saving a life during New Horizons 2018

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