Skip main navigation

Military Health System

Clear Your Browser Cache

This website has recently undergone changes. Users finding unexpected concerns may care to clear their browser's cache to ensure a seamless experience.

Eight nations participate in West African virtual pandemic exercise

Image of Picture of military personnel wearing a face mask looking at a laptop computer. U.S. Navy Cmdr. Helen Cann, senior medical officer, participates in a pandemic preparation and response virtual engagement in support of Exercise Obangame Express 2021, March 16, 2021. Obangame Express, conducted by U.S. Naval Forces Africa, is an at-sea maritime exercise designed to improve cooperation among participating nations in order to increase maritime safety and security in the Gulf of Guinea and West African coastal regions (Photo by: U.S. Navy Mass Communications Specialist 3rd Class Trey Fowler).

Medical experts from six African nations, the United Kingdom and the United States, participated in a Virtual Pandemic Preparation and Response Engagement on March 16, in support of Obangame Express 2021, the largest multinational maritime exercise in Western Africa.

The virtual medical event served as an opportunity for partner nations to discuss infectious disease surveillance and virus outbreak response. Participants included medical leaders from Nigeria, Senegal, Côte D'Ivoire, Gabon, Liberia, and Ghana, along with medical professionals from the U.S. Navy and United Kingdom. These experts exchanged lessons learned from previous epidemics in their respective countries, as well as the unprecedented worldwide COVID-19 pandemic.

"The objective of the engagement, like Obangame Express 21, is to increase regional cooperation and interoperability. This event focused on how we can do that from a medical perspective." said U.S. Navy Lt. Amy Welkie, health security cooperation officer and the event's coordinator. "This allowed us to establish and build partnerships with our medical counterparts across the Gulf of Guinea."

Ghana Armed Forces Capt. Edward Nyarko, public health director at the 37th Military Hospital in Ghana, discussed the role Ghana Armed Forces' played in the national COVID-19 response. Nyarko credits his team's experience with previous outbreaks, such as the Ebola epidemic and prioritizing response workers' mental health for his team's many successes in saving lives in Ghana.

"All of us have one aim, and that is to ensure that we are prepared for any eventuality, especially for disease outbreaks," Nyarko said. "NAMRU-3 has been one of our biggest supporters as they are embedded in [the Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research]."

Nyarko emphasized the importance of prior multinational partnerships with the U.S. Naval Medical Research Unit-No. 3 (NAMRU-3), U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) and others.

Through facilitated discussions, the event highlighted collaborations between militaries and local public health departments and the current goal of recovering previously infected military members.

Service members from the U.S. Navy and Royal Navy presented their experiences with outbreak responses in maritime environments.

"Outbreaks are the same whether you're in a maritime environment or a land environment," said U.S. Navy Cmdr. Brian Legendre, preventive medicine physician with the Navy Medical Corps. Legendre offered a number of strategies such as room ventilation, diagnostic testing, increased cleaning protocols, and isolation of sick patients as suggested tools for combating the spread of illnesses on ships.

Participants voiced their shared challenges during early pandemic response, which included shortages in personal protective equipment and limited accommodations for sick patients at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. In cross-sharing the challenges and solutions, participants assisted each other in improving professional bio-surveillance methods, and refining other techniques learned throughout the pandemic.

"It's been fabulous interacting with everyone and seeing how people have sort of faced similar challenges and come up with similar solutions," said Lt. Col Dan Burns, British Army infectious diseases consultant. "It's been brilliant, and I feel like we've learned a lot from the dialogue."

Exercise Obangame Express 2021, sponsored by AFRICOM and conducted by U.S. Naval Forces Africa, is designed to improve regional cooperation, maritime domain awareness, information-sharing practices, and tactical interdiction expertise to enhance the collective capabilities of Gulf of Guinea and West African nations to counter sea-based illicit activity.

You also may be interested in...

Topic
Jul 8, 2024

Global Health Engagement

The Department of Defense (DOD) recognizes that global health and security are linked, and our global health engagement (GHE) efforts address the intersection of these concerns. In addition to ensuring force health protection and medical readiness, DOD GHE efforts also address other DOD and U.S. government (USG) priorities. These include enhancing ...

Article Around MHS
May 24, 2024

In the Air and Across Cultures: Army Reserves Nurse Connects with Partner Nations at TRADEWINDS 24

U.S. Army Sgt. Karinna Matthews poses for picture

U.S. Army Sgt. Karinna Matthews is used to seeing the world from the air. When she’s not caring for patients as a nurse in the 328th Field Support Hospital, 330th Medical Brigade, 807th Medical Command, she spends her days as a helicopter tour pilot, excited to share the joy of aviation with others. When she arrived in Barbados for TRADEWINDS 24, she ...

Article Around MHS
May 8, 2024

A First: Navy Medicine Tests Treatment Protocols in the Artic

military personnel at Operation Ice Camp 2024

Operating in extreme artic temperatures can be extremely challenging. Performing tactical combat casualty care treatment even more difficult as casualties, donned with large amounts of clothing layers, can make wound assessment and applying medical care problematic. Operation Ice Camp 2024 is an operation that allows the U.S. Navy to assess its ...

Article Around MHS
Mar 13, 2024

U.S. Air Force Lesser Antilles Medical Assistance Team: The Impact on Human Life

U.S. Air Force reservist Capt. Whitney Dorame (left), 349th Medical Squadron nurse anesthetist, and a partner nation anesthesiologist, work together to exchange best practices during surgery at Owen King European Union Hospital, Castries, St. Lucia, Feb. 26, 2024. (Photo by U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Madeline Herzog)

Augustus Wayne Amos’ father passed away during a liver surgery in another country four days before Augustus received his own vascular surgery, one performed by members of the U.S. Air Force Lesser Antilles Medical Assistance Team on Feb. 26, 2024, in St. Lucia. The LAMAT team has been in St. Lucia since Feb. 26, working to complement host nation ...

Skip subpage navigation
Refine your search
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