Skip to main content

Military Health System

Important Notice about Pharmacy Operations

Change Healthcare Cyberattack Impact on MHS Pharmacy Operations. Read the statement to learn more. 

AFHSD’s GEIS collect data worldwide to support force protection

Image of Medical personnel scanning forehead of soldier with thermometer. Kuhina Talimalie, 735th Air Mobility Squadron, uses a no-touch thermometer on a U.S. Air Force airman to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19 among service members and the public. (Photo by Air Force Tech Sgt. Anthony Nelson Jr.)

Throughout 2020, the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Division and its Global Emerging Infections Surveillance branch continued to work with partners across the globe in their efforts to combat COVID-19 and protect military readiness. That work goes on even as vaccines for the disease have begun to be administered.

“We continue to fund worldwide respiratory pathogen surveillance studies and COVID-19-specific projects to understand the burden of disease and collect strains from infected cases across the globe,” said Navy Capt. Guillermo Pimentel, Global Emerging Infections Surveillance (GEIS) branch chief. These studies “allow the DOD to conduct advanced characterization of this novel coronavirus and support public health authorities of partner host nations.”

These efforts have allowed the Department of Defense to collect “critical information” for force health protection, and have allowed GEIS surveillance projects to reach approximately 80 countries, with its “principal strength being these partnerships with allies and demonstration of a field presence in key geographic locations of military relevance,” Pimentel added.

The data collected from surveillance studies are being used to “initiate, as well as to further adjust or modify, regional infectious disease protection guidance to maintain our forces ready to carry out their mission in each respective combatant command’s area of responsibility,” the GEIS chief said.

GEIS is also funding respiratory pathogen surveillance projects that provide data related to the burden of respiratory diseases to U.S and host nation militaries.

GEIS continues to fund COVID-19 genomic sequencing efforts from DOD service members and foreign nationals, Pimentel said. These sequencing efforts are at DOD labs in Cambodia, Thailand, Peru, and Kenya. By going outside the continental U.S., GEIS is better able to track the spread and impact in support of the combatant commands.

GEIS partners have sequenced more than 350 novel coronavirus isolates and have provided sequencing support to “multiple outbreaks in the Navy and Army,” he noted.

The Armed Forces Health Surveillance Division and its branches also continue to monitor influenza and other major health events and outbreaks that are of military relevance. In connection with academic partners and the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, the Integrated Biosurveillance Branch has a near real-time mapping application called the Health Surveillance Explorer that can be used to better respond to seasonal or pandemic influenza viruses, “estimate their impact on the readiness of the force, plan personnel requirements and implement interventions,” said IBB Chief Juan Ubiera.

GEIS’s military partners in its sequencing and tracking efforts are the Army (Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases), Navy (Navy Medical Research Center, Naval Health Research Center) and Air Force (U.S. Air Force School of Aerospace Medicine).

One partner from USAFSAM, Dr. Anthony Fries, a bioinformaticist from the Air Force Research Laboratory’s 711th Human Performance Wing at Wright-Patterson, Ohio, said the AFRL continues to increase the sequencing of SARS-CoV-2 viruses “to assess what viral diversity is circulating in our service members.” Fries noted his lab has sequenced more than 800 patients with COVID-19.

“While the impact and optimism surrounding vaccines cannot be overstated…we are positioning our sequencing activities to see how this virus responds to a population that will soon have robust protection to it from these new vaccines,” Fries said. “From an evolutionary perspective, we’re hoping that this virus’s limited ability to diversify itself could restrict its ability to avoid our efforts to stop it with the new vaccines.”

Air Force Maj. (Dr.) Jameson Voss, chief, Air Force Medical Service Precision Medicine, Air Force Medical Readiness Agency, added: “We need to understand the genetic changes in the virus to ensure diagnostic, vaccine, and other countermeasures are still working.”

You also may be interested in...

Article Around MHS
Feb 23, 2024

Medical Soldiers Compete in the Medical Readiness Command Europe 2024 Best Leader Competition

The 2nd Place of the 2024 Medical Readiness Command, Europe Best Leader Competition, held Feb 6-9 at Baumholder Training Area, Germany, are pictured with U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Roger Giraud, commander of Medical Readiness Command, Europe. The grueling four-day competition was rigorous, relevant, and realistic. Activities included a physical fitness assessment, M4 and M17 weapons zero and qualification, and a 12-mile foot march. (Photo by Kirk Frady)

More than 30 medical soldiers from across Europe competed in the 2024 Medical Readiness Command, Europe Best Leader competition, Feb. 6-9, at Baumholder Training Area in Germany. Teams from each of Medical Readiness Command, Europe’s four direct reporting units competed for a chance to represent the command at the 2024 U.S. Army Medical Command Best ...

Report
Feb 22, 2024

2022 DOD Worldwide Numbers for TBI

.PDF | 1.19 MB

TBICoE is the Defense Department’s office of responsibility for tracking traumatic brain injury data in the U.S. military. Here you’ll find data on the number of active-duty service members—anywhere U.S. forces are located—with a first-time TBI diagnosis in the calendar year 2022. The data is also broken down by each branch of the armed services.

Article Around MHS
Feb 20, 2024

Forward Deployable Preventative Medical Unit Enhances Combat Effectiveness with Comprehensive Weapons and Threat Recognition Training

Forward Deployable Preventative Medical Unit Six member trains in weapons proficiency during a specialized course designed to enhance readiness for diverse deployments on Feb. 8, 2024. The training was tailored for the unit’s unique mission to ensure service members are prepared for their upcoming deployments. (U.S. Navy photo by Desmond Martin)

The Forward Deployable Preventative Medical Unit participated in a first-ever weapons and threat recognition training course, specifically designed and tailored for the unit’s unique mission. FDPMU’s are rapidly deployable and mobile units that support force health protection around the globe.

Article Around MHS
Feb 16, 2024

Newest Pacific Veterinary Treatment Facility Enhances Care, Strengthens Partnerships in Japan

Noncommissioned officer-in-charge, U.S. Navy Staff Sgt. Ryan Spach, examine military working dog Jutas from the Commander Fleet Activities Sasebo Kennels, Japan. Jutas made history as the very first patient at the newly opened Sasebo veterinary treatment facility following a ribbon-cutting ceremony Jan. 18, 2024. (Courtesy Photo)

Despite intermittent downpours and cloudy skies, a palpable sense of excitement and anticipation filled the air as the Public Health Command-Pacific, Veterinary Readiness Activity, Japan and Commander, Fleet Activities Sasebo leadership came together on January 18, 2024, to celebrate the opening of the newest veterinary treatment facility in the Pacific.

Article
Feb 13, 2024

Defense Public Health Hosts Webinar for Red Hill Community

Defense Public Health Hosts Webinar for Red Hill Community

Public health officials from Defense Health Agency Public Health recently hosted a public webinar for members of the community affected by the Red Hill fuel release in 2021. During the event, held on Jan. 9, 2024, U.S. Air Force Col. John Oh, chief of the occupational and environmental health division at the DHA Public Health, gave an update on ...

Topic
Feb 12, 2024

Armed Forces Health Surveillance Division

The Armed Forces Health Surveillance Division plays a critical role in force health protection. As the central epidemiologic resource for the U.S. Armed Forces, AFHSD conducts medical surveillance to protect all those who serve our nation in uniform and allies who are critical to our national security interests.

Topic
Feb 8, 2024

Health Readiness & Combat Support

The Defense Health Agency provides support for operating forces engaged in planning for, or conducting, military operations, including support during conflict or in the conduct of other military activities related to countering threats to U.S. national security. Among DHA’s most important combat support responsibilities is its work to increase ...

Last Updated: July 11, 2023
Follow us on Instagram Follow us on LinkedIn Follow us on Facebook Follow us on X Follow us on YouTube Sign up on GovDelivery