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.

How Global Health Engagement is Boosting U.S. National Security

Image of Ghanaian sailor taking notes while standing watch. A Ghanaian sailor assumes a watch position at the Ghana Eastern Naval Command during the U.S. Naval Forces Africa-conducted Exercise Obangame Express, March 12. The Ghanian military is one of 52 partner militaries currently working with DHAPP (Photo by Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Fred Gray IV).

How does the prevention of HIV and AIDS around the globe lead to better cooperation with our international partners and, in turn, a heightened level of security and stability around the world?

The Defense Health Agency's Department of Defense HIV/AIDS Prevention Program (DHAPP), is responsible for assisting foreign militaries with the development and implementation of culturally-focused, military-specific HIV/AIDS prevention, care, and treatment programs in 52 countries worldwide, located primarily in Africa and South America.

The DHAPP's military-centric mission zeroes in on foreign militaries' force health protection, leading to enhanced readiness both for them and for the United States.

As Dr. Brad Hale, DHAPP's chief, based at the program's headquarters at Naval Base Point Loma in San Diego, California, explains it, "The health impact of prevention translates directly into a more fit and effective force and those forces contribute to internal and, potentially, regional security."

"Investing in partner military health is an investment in their force health protection, and we have seen improvements in partner force readiness," said Hale. "A more fit military partner can contribute more significantly to national and international stability. If they are doing that, U.S. forces may not have to, which improves our own readiness by reducing U.S. military taskings."

The program was created in 2001 and was executed by the Navy on behalf of the Department of Defense in its early years. In 2003, under then-President George W. Bush, the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) was established, putting the program wholly under the DOD as part of the U.S. government's international AIDS response.

Under PEPFAR, other government agencies including the U.S. Agency for International Development, Department of State, Health and Human Services and Peace Corps support foreign outreach and AIDS prevention efforts in the civilian sector, while DHAPP focuses specifically on partner militaries.

DHAPP's collaboration with partner militaries includes funding non-governmental organizations and universities in-country to do work "on the ground" in places like Ghana, Zambia and Mozambique. They also maintain program managers at embassies in every country that is part of the program as their "eyes and ears."

The Defense Health Agency took over the program in 2017, bringing with it increased oversight and support.

"When global health became an area of focus, we had already been doing it for a while, but the DHA has impacted the DHAPP program in several key areas, especially administrative and operational support," Hale said.

"Since coming over to the DHA, we have improved support for grants and contracts, fiscal operations, and administrative support. That helps us to be able to maintain more focus on our mission. We're also now grouped with other activities more aligned with what we do. Overall, it's been easier to accomplish our mission than it was before."

The relationships forged with military health care professionals throughout the world often lead to conversations beyond the scope of medicine.

"DHAPP opens doors for other conversations with partner militaries that may not have to do with health. They may have to do with other safety and security topics and other DOD priorities, and DHAPP has many longstanding relationships with these countries," said Hale.

"One key to build effective global health engagement is time," he said. "It takes a long time to gain the trust of partner militaries, to really understand the relevant issues, and to make sustainable changes. Since our mission is executed over years, we have the opportunity to create those trust relationships and make those sustainable changes.

An unintended benefit of the COVID-19 pandemic, and a function of DHAPP's international mission, was that many of its programs in-country were able to continue during the height of the pandemic because embassy workers executing them were citizens of the countries they were working in. The program was also able to make a case for the adjustment of dispensing medications more than just one month at a time.

"The traditional practice was to just give out a month's worth of pills at a time, which leads to extra burden on the patient and the facility," explained Hale. "During the pandemic, we were able to accelerate this 'multi-month dispensing' which helped relieve crowding on health care facilities and helped patients avoid frequent visits to a facility they were a bit reluctant to visit."

In the past, military physicians from partner nations participated in residencies at stateside military medical treatment facilities like Naval Medical Center in San Diego as part of the program. Now, all of the clinical training that was once done in-person has now been transitioned to an online format, which actually allows more people to participate.

Global Health Engagement activities like DHAPP serve to build trust and confidence, share information, coordinate mutual activities, maintain influence, and achieve interoperability in support of U.S. national security policy and military strategy.

Hale said, if there is any single thing that he wants people to know about DHAPP, it's that they are working to fulfill part of a mission that was started by President George W. Bush, and has been sustained by Presidents Obama, Trump and now Biden to decrease the impact of HIV across the globe to the point of creating an "AIDS-free generation."

"Our part is doing that in militaries, and I think it's working very well. I think it's actually the most successful foreign government initiative I have ever worked on," said Hale. "I think it's a really worthy cause worth finishing, but it's not done yet."

You also may be interested in...

Article Around MHS
Jun 22, 2023

Marine Forces Special Operations Command and the Influence of Global Health Engagement

U.S. Navy Rear Adm. (Ret.) Thomas Cullison, former deputy surgeon general, U.S. Navy, teaches fundamentals of global health engagement to a class

Since its inception, Marine Forces Special Operations Command prioritized missions such as foreign Internal defense. The command places a Marine Special Operations Company in a country and work with local partner forces to exchange ideas and practices. These efforts intent to and increase their ability to work independently to increase national and ...

Article Around MHS
Jun 15, 2023

24 Nations Unite at Military Nursing Exchange to Enhance USAFE-AFAFRICA Partnerships, Readiness

Polish Air Force Medic, 1st Lt. Marzena Dudaryk, administers Tactical Combat Casualty Care during a simulation session at the U.S Air Forces in Europe - Air Forces Africa European-African Military Nurses Exchange Conference on May 31, 2023.

Nurses and medical professionals from 24 allied and partner nations, including the U.S., converged at the U.S. Air Forces in Europe - Air Forces Africa 2023 European-African Military Nursing Exchange conference, May 31 – June 2, to share medical knowledge and professional best practices with one another.

Article Around MHS
Jun 8, 2023

National Guard Provides Medical Treatment to Tribes in Idaho, Nevada

Approximately 100 citizen-soldiers and airmen from Arizona, Idaho, Minnesota, and Nevada National Guard provided care for two Native American tribes in Idaho and Nevada as part of Operation Nimiipuu Health, a Department of Defense Innovative Readiness Training program. Members of the National Guard provided medical, dental, and optometry services to the Nez Perce Tribe and surrounding community of Lapwai, Idaho, May 16-18.  (Photo by U.S. National Guard Master Sgt. Becky Vanshur)

Members of the National Guard provided medical, dental, and optometry services to the Nez Perce Tribe and surrounding community of Lapwai, Idaho, May 16-18. The unit also provided behavioral health services to members of the Shoshone-Paiute Tribes and the surrounding community of Duck Valley, Nevada May 22-25.

Article Around MHS
Jun 2, 2023

Operationalizing Army Medicine in the Pacific

U.S. Army Maj. Nekkeya McGee, a clinical operations blood operations consultant with the 18th Medical Command, discusses medical logistics with a Land Forces Pacific Symposium and Exposition 2023 attendee in Honolulu, Hawaii, on May 16, 2023. (Photo by U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Timothy Hughes)

More than 2,000 senior U.S. Army leaders, military allies and partners, government representatives, and industry partners participated in the Association of the United States Army’s Land Forces Pacific Symposium and Exposition 2023. A major theme was operationalizing the National Defense Strategy.

Article Around MHS
May 30, 2023

Navy Expeditionary Medical Unit Rotations Provide Ongoing Support in the Middle East

U.S. Navy Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Freeman Morrison, a biomedical technician, left, and U.S. Navy Lt. j. g. Andrew Mappus, an emergency room nurse, right, assigned to Navy Expeditionary Medical Unit 10- Gulf, Rotation 13, are monitoring an U.S. Army Medic Task Force Buckeye, 37th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, as he draws blood from an soldier on Dec. 20. (Photo by U.S. Navy Capt. Jerrol Walla)

The 30-member team conducted enhanced shore-based activities at Erbil Air Base in Iraq, where they provided life, limb, and eyesight-saving care to the U.S. armed forces, Department of Defense, civilian contractors, and multi-national coalition forces. They also provided critical support to facilities in the Eastern Syria Security Area.

Article Around MHS
May 11, 2023

USAMMDA Team Equips a Worldwide Force

Leaders with the U.S. Army Medical Materiel Development Activity and Regional Training Site-Medical stand for a group photo during a hospital conversion fielding at Fort Gordon, Georgia, on March 7. USAMMDA’s Force Sustainment Directorate, which worked for more than a year to coordinate the hospital center shipment, is responsible for the wholesale procurement, production, fielding, sustainment, and recovery of medical sets, kits, and outfits.  (Photo by Rick Bower, U.S. Army)

In the multi-domain battlefields of today and tomorrow, the U.S. Army’s supply priorities include more than the food, weapons, and cotton gauzes that have sustained American warfighters during past wars. A select team with the U.S. Army Medical Materiel Development Activity—the U.S. Army’s premier medical development command—work each day to field the ...

Article Around MHS
May 9, 2023

U.S. Army Medical Logistics Command Recognized for Role in Afghan Humanitarian Mission

U.S. Army Sgt. Jason Smith, a paratrooper with the 82nd Airborne Division’s 1st Brigade Combat Team, talks with a group of Afghan children during an Afghan-led clearing operation on April 28, 2012, in the Ghazni province of Afghanistan. (Photo by U.S. Army Sgt. Michael J. MacLeod)

U.S. Army Medical Logistics Command was awarded a meritorious unit citation for supporting missions in and following the military’s withdrawal from Afghanistan. AMLC’s role in the largest evacuation of noncombatants in U.S. military history included support to U.S. coalition and contractor personnel, as well as thousands of Afghans following two ...

Article Around MHS
Apr 25, 2023

U.S. Army Field Medical Laboratory Leaders Meet with Polish Counterparts in Warsaw

Leaders from the 1st Area Medical Laboratory meet with their Polish counterparts at the Polish Epidemiological Response Center in Warsaw, Poland. The command team from the 1st Area Medical Laboratory visited Poland in support of the U.S. Army Europe-Africa Surgeon Cell’s regional engagement efforts. (Courtesy photo)

Leaders from the U.S. Army’s only deployable medical field laboratory recently met with medical officials and chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear experts from the Polish Armed Forces. The command team from the 1st Area Medical Laboratory visited Poland in support of the U.S. Army Europe-Africa Surgeon Cell’s regional engagement efforts.

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