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Global Health Engagement

The U.S. military has a long standing history in international public health issues as a result of our responsibility to protect the health of our forces and to ensure that they are ready to deploy anywhere in the world at a moment’s notice. Global health engagement is an important priority for the Military Health System (MHS). Our work:

  • Improves the health and safety of our warfighters,
  • Expands our medical readiness, 
  • Builds trust and deepens professional medical relationships around the world, and 
  • Advances U.S. national security objectives.

Why DoD Supports Global Health Engagement

The Department of Defense (DoD) recognizes that global health and security are linked, and our global health engagement efforts address the intersection of these concerns.

In addition to ensuring force health protection and medical readiness, DoD global health engagement efforts also address other DoD and U.S. government priorities. These include enhancing interoperability by helping partner nations build health capacity, combatting global health threats like emerging infectious diseases and antibiotic-resistant bacteria, and supporting humanitarian assistance and disaster relief initiatives.

How the DoD Engages

The DoD works diligently with foreign nations to establish and develop international partnerships through joint medical training exercises and public health initiatives. We aim to support and strengthen the public health capabilities of our partner nations in these engagements, as well as to improve our interoperability with them.

USNS Comfort HaitiUSNS Comfort anchors off Haiti for Continuing Promise 2015, during which its personnel conducted medical training exercises and exchanges with partner nations in Latin America.

Our laboratories across the globe conduct essential surveillance of biological threats as well as groundbreaking research on infectious diseases. The DoD’s global reach also serves as a force for good around the world, offering humanitarian and disaster response assistance when requested.

The DoD’s global health engagement efforts are part of a whole-of-government approach, conducted in close coordination with other U.S. Government agencies, including the Department of State, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Agriculture, and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The DoD also engages with non-government organizations, academia and private-sector organizations to enhance global health objectives.

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Military nursing exchange brings together 23 partner nations

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4/12/2019
Medical professionals from around Europe and Africa receive small-group training at Ramstein Air Base, Germany. The 2019 European African Military Nursing Exchange is the 6th iteration of its kind, with extensive planning and coordination to connect partner nations in a collaborative environment that promotes hands-on training scenarios. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Jessica Hines)

United States, European and African military nurses focused on each nation’s unique cultures, communication patterns and capacity for interoperability

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Pacific Partnership 2019 introduces helicopter en route medical care

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A Philippine Fire Department rescue worker lifts a simulated earthquake victim onto a Philippine Air Force rescue helicopter during the Pacific Partnership 2019 exercise in Tacloban, Philippines. The goal of the Pacific Partnership is to improve interoperability of the region's military forces, governments, and humanitarian organizations during disaster relief operations, while providing humanitarian, medical, dental, and engineering assistance to nations of the Pacific all while strengthening relationships and security ties between the partner nations (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Andrew Jackson)

The exercise is an important part of disaster risk reduction

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Pacific Partnership 2019 participates in community health engagement in Tacloban

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Navy Lt. Sharon Hoff (right) listens to a patient’s heartbeat as Philippine Army Capt. Glorife Saura from the Armed Forces of the Philippines Medical Corps records patient vital signs. Pacific Partnership participants and Tacloban City medical professionals worked together to provide medical and veterinary services throughout the day at Tigbao Diit Elementary School. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Nathan Carpenter)

Pacific Partnership 2019 exchanges create lasting bonds of friendship and trust

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Global Health Engagement in action: Trinidad and Tobago

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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)

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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)

This mission marked the sixth time the hospital ship has provided medical assistance in the region

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Leaders take world view to enhance health readiness

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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)

Global engagements include missions in South, Central America

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Navy entomologists team up to build disease detection capacity in Honduras

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Navy LCDR Kimberly Edgel (right) and Carmen Lucas examine a positive malaria blood smear at U.S. Naval Medical Research Unit, or NAMRU, 6 in Callao, Peru. (U.S. Navy photo)

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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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2018 Medical Support Operations Conference

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Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs Tom McCaffery spoke at the 2018 Medical Support Operations Conference in London, delivering remarks on the defense sector's role in advancing the Global Health Security Agenda. A partnership of more than 60 nations, the Global Health Security Agenda, or GHSA, brings together the unique roles of governments, industry, NGOs, academia, and international institutions to combat infectious disease threats. “We are up against a perilous rise in infectious disease outbreaks threatening the health and safety of our citizens, as well as threatening geopolitical stability,” stated McCaffery, emphasizing that global health security is an essential part of our national security. “The bottom line is that defense and security sectors have a real opportunity to use the GHSA framework to increase collaboration and converge our unique assets across all sectors to detect and defeat disease at the earliest possible moment," McCaffery said.

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2018 Visit to U.S. Africa Command's Command Surgeon

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Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs Tom McCaffery visits U.S. Africa Command's Command Surgeon and team to discuss the strategic context of global health in advancing shared security objectives with partner nations across the region. The Department of Defense recognizes that Global Health Engagement activities play a key role to advance U.S. troop operational readiness, build interoperability, and enhance Security Cooperation.

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U.S. Military HIV Research Program

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Increasing Partner-Nation Capacity Through Global Health Engagement

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Trauma Care in Support of Global Military Operations

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