Back to Top Skip to main content

Global Health Engagement strengthens partnerships

U.S. Navy Capt. Michael Sullivan, a pediatrician assigned to the hospital ship USNS Comfort, gives a sticker to a two-year-old boy after examining his skin infection at a temporary medical treatment site in Port-Au-Prince, Haiti. During Comfort’s deployment, the crew worked with health and government partners in Central America, South America, and the Caribbean to provide care on the ship and at a temporary medical treatment site, helping to relieve pressure on national medical systems, including those strained by an increase in cross-border migrants. (U.S. Navy Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Maria G. Llanos) U.S. Navy Capt. Michael Sullivan, a pediatrician assigned to the hospital ship USNS Comfort, gives a sticker to a two-year-old boy after examining his skin infection at a temporary medical treatment site in Port-Au-Prince, Haiti. During Comfort’s deployment, the crew worked with health and government partners in Central America, South America, and the Caribbean to provide care on the ship and at a temporary medical treatment site, helping to relieve pressure on national medical systems, including those strained by an increase in cross-border migrants. (U.S. Navy Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Maria G. Llanos)

Recommended Content:

Global Health Engagement | Global Health Engagement

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar describes the work of the international crew of the USNS Comfort as “near miraculous.” He was aboard the U.S. Navy hospital ship during its deployment to South America earlier this year and saw firsthand the impact of forward deployed health and humanitarian assistance missions.

On board, he met a man who had been blind for several years. The Comfort and its staff performed cataract surgery, restoring the man’s sight. After the procedure, “he actually looked up and the first thing he saw was a clock on the wall and pointed to it,” Azar recalled. “He said he hadn’t seen a clock in a decade.”

Azar recounted this story Dec. 3 at the 2019 annual meeting of the Society of Federal Health Professionals, calling it and the mission of the Comfort as “perfect examples of international humanitarian cooperation and the great American generosity made possible by our men and women in uniform and our medical professionals and civilian servants throughout the U.S. government.”

In all, the Comfort’s deployment touched the lives of nearly 69,000 people in 12 countries in South America, Central America, and the Caribbean through dental work, surgeries, family medicine, and eye exams. Medics also distributed nearly 31,000 pairs of prescription eyeglasses.

The Comfort deployment underscores the Department of Defense’s commitment to its role in Global Health Engagement, a critical driver to advance U.S. national security interests around the world.

U.S. Military Sealift Command Cmdr. Andrew Chen, chief mate aboard the hospital ship USNS Comfort, (right), gives U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Lee E. Payne, (center), assistant director for Combat Support, Defense Health Agency, and Tom McCaffery, assistant secretary of Defense for Health Affairs, a tour of the ship while off the coast of Port-Au-Prince, Haiti. Comfort is working with health and government partners in Central America, South America, and the Caribbean to provide care on the ship and at land-based medical sites, helping to relieve pressure on national medical systems, including those strained by an increase in cross-border migrants. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Jordan R. Bair)
U.S. Military Sealift Command Cmdr. Andrew Chen, chief mate aboard the hospital ship USNS Comfort, (right), gives U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Lee E. Payne, (center), assistant director for Combat Support, Defense Health Agency, and Tom McCaffery, assistant secretary of Defense for Health Affairs, a tour of the ship while off the coast of Port-Au-Prince, Haiti. Comfort is working with health and government partners in Central America, South America, and the Caribbean to provide care on the ship and at land-based medical sites, helping to relieve pressure on national medical systems, including those strained by an increase in cross-border migrants. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Jordan R. Bair)

The U.S. military has long recognized the close link between health and security – and the operational and strategic importance of Global Health. In the early 1900s, U.S. Army surgeon Major Walter Reed discovered the causes of yellow fever, which claimed the lives of more U.S. soldiers than combat during the Spanish-American War. Since then, the Department’s role in global health builds upon the foundation of readiness, recognizing that U.S. forces could be deployed anywhere in the world, and on a moment’s notice – and that they must be prepared for any health threats they might face. In recent years, the strategic focus on the linkage of global health and security has been increasingly reflected in the National Security Strategy, the National Defense Strategy, the National Biodefense Strategy, and the Global Health Security Strategy.

Beyond protecting U.S. forces, the Department recognizes that by enhancing readiness, increasing interoperability, and strengthening partnerships, Global Health Engagement activities serve as key enablers of the National Defense Strategy.

Advancing readiness of the force

The Military Health System carries out its mission to prepare military medical teams to provide the best possible health care on the battlefield and ensure service members are medically ready to deploy. Global Health Engagement activities advance this readiness, providing critical training opportunities to enhance military medical capabilities.

The U.S. remains at the global forefront for infectious disease prevention. The Military Health System’s cutting-edge research and development program continues to develop vaccines and countermeasures for infectious disease to enhance global health security – from Zika to dengue fever. These capabilities are important not only to protect U.S. and partner forces, but to combat health threats that can destabilize societies and create conditions where conflict is likely to emerge.

Contributing to the overall effort, as part of the Defense Health Agency’s combat support capabilities, the Health Surveillance Explorer communicates disease outbreak surveillance through immediate reporting and monthly surveillance summaries, providing critical information to inform Force Health Protection priorities and monitor threats to global stability. The U.S. military’s research labs in South America, Africa, Southeast Asia, and the Middle East serve on the front lines with partner nations to improve disease surveillance and outbreak response assistance.

The first goal of the U.S. Government Global Health Security Strategy calls for strengthening partner country global health security capacities. “Achieving global health security requires all nation-states to be capable of preventing, detecting, and responding promptly and effectively to health security risks and public health emergencies of international concern,” according to the strategy published earlier this year. “To help those in need while protecting Americans at home and abroad, the United States will help partners achieve international global health security standards.”

One example supporting this strategy occurred in March 2019 when U.S. Africa Command and the Ugandan Ministry of Defense co-hosted the African Malaria Task Force. Experts from 18 African partner nations, nongovernmental organizations, nonprofit organizations, and the U.S. gathered to share best practices and lessons learned in combating the primary disease that kills in Africa.

“The purpose [of AFMT] is to bring together scientists and policymakers in order to strengthen and expand effective, sustainable malaria control programs, provide support to African partner nations, and to assist national and regional malarial programs,” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Edward Kosterman, public health officer, Office of the Command Surgeon, AFRICOM, in an AFRICOM news release. “We want to encourage our partners to take a whole-of-government approach to combat malaria, by sharing resources, strategies, and expertise while leveraging their ministries of defense as key assets in resource-constrained environments.”

AFMT has grown since its inception in 2011 to include 21 African partner nations, testament to the benefits of strengthening collaboration to combat a disease that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says in 2016 claimed 90 percent of reported deaths worldwide in Africa.

Building partnerships and interoperability

Global Health Engagement activities also build interoperability through subject matter expert exchanges with partners and allies and joint exercises to improve response to disasters or outbreaks, contributions to globally integrated health services, and partnerships to advance shared interests and maintain regional stability and security.

Earlier this year, the Department of Defense partnered with the United Arab Emirates to create a dedicated trauma, burn, and rehabilitative medicine capability in Abu Dhabi – an effort that will both sustain and enhance wartime surgical skills while building interoperability with U.S. partners across the region.

Military health education and training exchanges, including sharing advances in military trauma care and patient movement, promote mutual awareness, familiarity, and confidence in military medicine and enhancing Partner Nation military medical capabilities.

As part of the Comfort’s deployment this year, the ship’s medical staff collaborated with Colombian military and civilian medical experts to exchange treatment techniques and best practices.

“It’s an event of supreme importance because the U.S. military is teaching us many ways to prevent epidemic illnesses that all under-developed countries, like Colombia, have to confront,” said Lt. Col. Janeth Rosero Reyes, Colombian army director of general medicine at Battalion Cordoba. “My entire team learned a lot of techniques and we will begin to share them with the goal to generate an impact in our foundation.”

Enhancing Security Cooperation

Global Health Engagement enhances security cooperation, fostering critical relationships and cooperation so that when health or other security threats arise, the U.S. is ready and able to partner to advance shared interests.

The Defense HIV/AIDS Prevention Program, for example, partners with 55 other countries’ militaries to curb the global HIV/AIDS epidemic. Over the past nearly two decades of work, DHAPP has provided direct military-to-military cooperation and support to partner nations through activities like training health care workers to provide clinical services, equipping laboratories and clinics for testing and diagnostics, promoting health education, linking individuals with treatment, and more. This long-standing singular focus on a disease continues to leverage critical partnerships while addressing a global epidemic, reflecting the unique and powerful capabilities behind Global Health Engagement. 

“As the Military Health System works to deliver on the National Defense Strategy’s priorities to advance readiness and strategic partnerships and alliances, Global Health Engagement remains a strategic tool for combatant commands,” said assistant secretary of Defense for Health Affairs Tom McCaffery, “and the Military Health System remains committed to leveraging the vast repository of Global Health Engagement assets to support operational readiness, recognizing the U.S. military is better prepared, better protected and stronger through partnership as a result.”

You also may be interested in...

Trauma Care in Support of Global Military Operations

Publication
12/6/2017

The Department of Defense (DoD) Joint Trauma System (JTS) revolutionized combat casualty care by creating a trauma system for the battlefield.

Recommended Content:

Global Health Engagement | Force Health Protection

AFHSB's health surveillance program supports Defense Department global health engagement efforts

Article
11/30/2017
U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Joshua Douglass, left, an aerospace medical technician, watches as Liberian health care workers properly put on their personal protective equipment as part response by the Defense Department operation to provide logistics, training and engineering support during the Ebola virus outbreak. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Terrance D. Rhodes)

Navy Commander Franca R. Jones, chief of the Global Emerging Infections section at the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch (AFHSB) discusses how AFHSB's health surveillance program supports the Defense Department global health engagement efforts.

Recommended Content:

Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch | Global Emerging Infections Surveillance | Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) Surveillance | Febrile and Vector-Borne Infections (FVBI) Surveillance | Enteric Infections (EI) Surveillance | GEIS Partners | Global Health Engagement | Global Health Engagement

Strengthening capabilities, fostering partnership top priorities at global health summit

Article
10/27/2017
Admiral Tim Ziemer, head of U.S. delegation, giving remarks at the Global Health Security Agenda Ministerial Meeting in Kampala, Uganda.

A growing partnership of more than 60 nations is working to build countries’ capacity to help create a world safe and secure from infectious disease threats and elevate global health security

Recommended Content:

Global Health Engagement | Global Health Security Agenda

DoD Instruction 2000.30: Global Health Engagement Activities

Policy

This instruction establishes policy, assigns responsibilities, and prescribes procedures for the conduct of global health engagement activities with partner nation (PN) entities.

Exercise Immediate Response 16

Video
1/13/2017
Soldiers and Airmen practice combat trauma care with allied and partner nation medical service members at Cerklje ob Krki, Slovenia, as part of exercise Immediate Response.

Soldiers and Airmen practice combat trauma care with allied and partner nation medical service members at Cerklje ob Krki, Slovenia, as part of exercise Immediate Response.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Global Health Engagement

ENT Palau medical care

Photo
11/3/2016
Anthony Tolisano, chief resident with the Tripler Army Medical Center's Ear, Nose and Throat Clinic, inserts tubes into a child's ear drum to drain the fluid build-up in his ear. Tolisano was in Palau as part of a mission requested by the Palau Ministry of Health to provide specialty care to the people of the island nation. (U.S. Army photo by William Sallette)

Anthony Tolisano, chief resident with the Tripler Army Medical Center's Ear, Nose and Throat Clinic, inserts tubes into a child's ear drum to drain the fluid build-up in his ear. Tolisano was in Palau as part of a mission requested by the Palau Ministry of Health to provide specialty care to the people of the island nation. (U.S. Army photo by William Sallette)

Recommended Content:

Global Health Engagement

Innovations from a Global Health Engagement and Rapid Response during Ebola virus outbreak

Presentation
11/1/2016

Innovations from a Global Health Engagement and Rapid Response during the 2013-2015 Western African Ebola virus outbreak. Briefing to the Defense Health Board, Nov. 1, 2016.

Recommended Content:

Global Health Engagement

Department of Defense continues commitment to Global Health Security Agenda

Article
10/12/2016
Dr. Karen Guice, acting assistant secretary of Defense for Health Affairs, addressed attendees on the second day of the 2016 Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) Summit Sept. 14, 2016.

Department of Defense and other senior U.S. government leaders travel to the Netherlands to attend a summit on the Global Health Security Agenda

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Global Health Engagement | Building Partner Capacity and Interoperability | Global Health Security Agenda | Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch | Global Health Engagement

How is the U.S. Military Dealing with Zika?

Video
6/7/2016
Zika image

The Defense Department is closely monitoring the spread of the Zika virus and is working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to assist in virus surveillance, response and research efforts.

Recommended Content:

Zika Virus | Global Health Engagement | Mosquito-Borne Illnesses

U.S. Government Global Health Security Agenda Partners

Photo
1/29/2016
U.S. Government Global Health Security Agenda Partners

Recommended Content:

Pandemic Diseases | Global Health Engagement

MHS supports Global Health Security Agenda through its Force Health Protection Mission

Article
1/29/2016
U.S. Government Global Health Security Agenda Partners

For nearly two decades, the Military Health System has supported global public health surveillance to protect its forces and allies

Recommended Content:

Global Health Engagement | Pandemic Diseases | Global Health Security Agenda

Global Health Engagement Month #3

Infographic
12/29/2015
infographic for global health engagement

A healthy partner is a stable partner! Supporting partner nations' health system capacities is a critical element of global health engagement.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Global Health Engagement

Global Health Engagement Month #2

Infographic
12/14/2015
Inforgraphic for Global Health Engagement Month

Helping partner nations to build and sustain their health system capacities promotes health security around the world. Global health engagement helps to prevent, detect, and respond to biological threats before they develop into global public health issues.

Recommended Content:

Global Health Engagement | Force Health Protection

Global Health Engagement Month #1

Infographic
12/7/2015
Infographic about Global Health Engagement

Global Health Engagement supports Force Health Protection through vaccines and medical countermeasures, active surveillance of emerging infectious diseases and engagement with partner nations.

Recommended Content:

Global Health Engagement | Force Health Protection

Global Health Engagement

Presentation
2/11/2015

Global Health Engagement: Smart Power in Defense, Brief for the Defense Health Board by Dr. David Smith

Recommended Content:

Global Health Engagement
<< < 1 2 3 4 5 > >> 
Showing results 46 - 60 Page 4 of 5

DHA Address: 7700 Arlington Boulevard | Suite 5101 | Falls Church, VA | 22042-5101

Some documents are presented in Portable Document Format (PDF). A PDF reader is required for viewing. Download a PDF Reader or learn more about PDFs.