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. 

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
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 Around MHS
Jan 10, 2024

Charting a Course of Compassionate Care in the Blue Pacific

U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer 2nd Class Steven Zea, a deployed health services technician, observes operations aboard the USCGC Myrtle Hazard in the Coral Sea off Papua New Guinea on Aug. 25, 2023, during a 46-day expeditionary patrol. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Chief Warrant Officer Sara Muir)

In the vast oceanic stretches of the U.S. Coast Guard's 14th District and the Blue Pacific, skilled medical personnel like U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer 1st Class Steven Zea on fast response cutters, especially during expeditionary patrols, is not just a necessity; it's a lifeline.

Article
Jan 4, 2024

Leveraging Emerging Technology to Detect Biothreats Subject of Recent Summit

Leveraging Emerging Technology to Detect Biothreats Subject of Recent Summit

The Armed Forces Health Surveillance Division’s Global Emerging Infections Surveillance branch hosted its first Next-Generation Sequencing Summit in Silver Spring, Maryland. Attendees included representatives from the GEIS network of global partner laboratories and other U.S. government agencies. AFHSD is a division of Defense Health Agency Public Health.

Article Around MHS
Jan 2, 2024

Pacific Partnership 24-1 Spotlights Global Health

The hospital ship USNS Mercy (T-AH 19) arrives in Koror, Palau during Pacific Partnership 2024-1 Dec. 21, 2023. (Photo By Chief Petty Officer Shamira Purifoy)

Pacific Partnership 24-1 concludes 10 days of medical, humanitarian, and disaster response, collaborating with professionals and U.S. veterans. The mission concluded at its third mission stop on Dec. 21, 2023 in Pohnpei, Federated States of Micronesia.

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