Dominican Air Force Prepares to Protect the Civilian Population from Ebola

Dominican Air Force Prepares to Protect the Civilian Population from Ebola

By Dialogo
November 05, 2014




The Dominican Air Force (DAF) recently convened the medical community of the Armed Forces to prepare its response to the deadly Ebola virus.

The conference, “Ebola Management and Protocols according to the World Health and Pan American Health Organizations,” took place at the Dr. Ramón de Lara Military Hospital on October 10.

Led by Col. Humberto José Brito Gómez, Internal Medicine specialist and deputy director of the hospital, the medical professionals in attendance discussed Ebola guidelines established by the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO). They were also shown an epidemiological and statistical analysis showing the seriousness of the current Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

As of October 29, there were more than 13,700 cases of Ebola, with more than 4,900 deaths, according to the World Health Organization. Almost all the cases have been in West Africa, with a handful in Europe and the United States. No instances of the disease have been reported in the Dominican Republic or in any other country in Latin America.

Physicians at the conference discussed the symptoms of Ebola, the best ways to diagnose the disease, and how to safely transport and treat patients who are infected with the virus.

“The high level of preparation of physicians in the Armed Forces has allowed them to face important challenges in the health sector,” said Daniel Pou, a researcher at the Latin American Faculty of Social Sciences (FLACSO) in the Dominican Republic. “The Armed Forces hospital was used in this prevention exercise because of its large size, influence at the national level and highly qualified staff who work on prevention issues. ”


A humanitarian mission


Like the other branches of the Dominican Republic’s military, the DAF cooperates with the country’s police forces and other countries, such as the United States, in the fight against organized crime and international drug trafficking. However, protecting the civilian population from health threats is also part of the DAF’s responsibilities.

If Ebola were to break out in the Dominican Republic, the DAF and other branches of the Armed Forces would provide the same kind of assistance they do during natural disasters: air and sea transport and logistical and medical support, including the deployment of mobile military hospitals. They would meet other challenges related to the disease as well.

“One is border surveillance to ensure that there is no significant permeability,” Pou said. “Another challenge is providing support to their highly qualified medical staff according to safety guidelines implemented before unexpected events occur.”

A cooperative effort


The Armed Forces are also coordinating with civilian government institutions to prepare for Ebola.

On October 26, the Ministry of Health provided mass training on Ebola prevention to doctors and nurses in hospitals and private clinics, provincial health directors, epidemiologists, physicians who work at ports, airports and border crossings, and leaders of the provincial branches of the Dominican Medical College.

The conference, “Ebola: Epidemiology, Clinical Presentation, Management and Biosafety” was designed specifically for health care workers who provide services in provinces with ports, airports and border crossings. Speakers at the training session included Dr. Raquel Pimentel, general director of epidemiology for the Ministry of Health; Dr. José Yunén, infectious disease specialist at the country’s Center for Diagnosis and Advanced Medicine (CEDIMAT), and Dr. Talía Flores, president of the Dominican Society of Infectious Diseases.

Experience fighting deadly diseases


The DAF has extensive experience responding to the outbreak of a deadly disease.

It assisted the civilian population during an outbreak of cholera in November 2010, which emerged almost a year after a 7.0 magnitude earthquake struck the Dominican Republic’s neighbor, Haiti, in January 2010. That disaster caused severe damage to Haiti’s infrastructure and limited the country’s access to clean drinking water – a precursor to the appearance of cholera, which can come from ingesting tainted water. From there, the disease spread into the Dominican Republic.

About 25,000 cases of cholera had been reported in the Dominican Republic at the time, including about 400 deaths. But the Dominican Republic’s military helped contain the epidemic.

“In this situation, members of the Armed Forces participated with their team of epidemiologists,” Pou said. “Because these medical experts had been in different countries where the Dominican Republic participates in United Nations exercises, the doctors were familiar with how the outbreak spreads, precautionary measures and everything related to halting the cholera epidemic.”



The Dominican Air Force (DAF) recently convened the medical community of the Armed Forces to prepare its response to the deadly Ebola virus.

The conference, “Ebola Management and Protocols according to the World Health and Pan American Health Organizations,” took place at the Dr. Ramón de Lara Military Hospital on October 10.

Led by Col. Humberto José Brito Gómez, Internal Medicine specialist and deputy director of the hospital, the medical professionals in attendance discussed Ebola guidelines established by the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO). They were also shown an epidemiological and statistical analysis showing the seriousness of the current Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

As of October 29, there were more than 13,700 cases of Ebola, with more than 4,900 deaths, according to the World Health Organization. Almost all the cases have been in West Africa, with a handful in Europe and the United States. No instances of the disease have been reported in the Dominican Republic or in any other country in Latin America.

Physicians at the conference discussed the symptoms of Ebola, the best ways to diagnose the disease, and how to safely transport and treat patients who are infected with the virus.

“The high level of preparation of physicians in the Armed Forces has allowed them to face important challenges in the health sector,” said Daniel Pou, a researcher at the Latin American Faculty of Social Sciences (FLACSO) in the Dominican Republic. “The Armed Forces hospital was used in this prevention exercise because of its large size, influence at the national level and highly qualified staff who work on prevention issues. ”


A humanitarian mission


Like the other branches of the Dominican Republic’s military, the DAF cooperates with the country’s police forces and other countries, such as the United States, in the fight against organized crime and international drug trafficking. However, protecting the civilian population from health threats is also part of the DAF’s responsibilities.

If Ebola were to break out in the Dominican Republic, the DAF and other branches of the Armed Forces would provide the same kind of assistance they do during natural disasters: air and sea transport and logistical and medical support, including the deployment of mobile military hospitals. They would meet other challenges related to the disease as well.

“One is border surveillance to ensure that there is no significant permeability,” Pou said. “Another challenge is providing support to their highly qualified medical staff according to safety guidelines implemented before unexpected events occur.”

A cooperative effort


The Armed Forces are also coordinating with civilian government institutions to prepare for Ebola.

On October 26, the Ministry of Health provided mass training on Ebola prevention to doctors and nurses in hospitals and private clinics, provincial health directors, epidemiologists, physicians who work at ports, airports and border crossings, and leaders of the provincial branches of the Dominican Medical College.

The conference, “Ebola: Epidemiology, Clinical Presentation, Management and Biosafety” was designed specifically for health care workers who provide services in provinces with ports, airports and border crossings. Speakers at the training session included Dr. Raquel Pimentel, general director of epidemiology for the Ministry of Health; Dr. José Yunén, infectious disease specialist at the country’s Center for Diagnosis and Advanced Medicine (CEDIMAT), and Dr. Talía Flores, president of the Dominican Society of Infectious Diseases.

Experience fighting deadly diseases


The DAF has extensive experience responding to the outbreak of a deadly disease.

It assisted the civilian population during an outbreak of cholera in November 2010, which emerged almost a year after a 7.0 magnitude earthquake struck the Dominican Republic’s neighbor, Haiti, in January 2010. That disaster caused severe damage to Haiti’s infrastructure and limited the country’s access to clean drinking water – a precursor to the appearance of cholera, which can come from ingesting tainted water. From there, the disease spread into the Dominican Republic.

About 25,000 cases of cholera had been reported in the Dominican Republic at the time, including about 400 deaths. But the Dominican Republic’s military helped contain the epidemic.

“In this situation, members of the Armed Forces participated with their team of epidemiologists,” Pou said. “Because these medical experts had been in different countries where the Dominican Republic participates in United Nations exercises, the doctors were familiar with how the outbreak spreads, precautionary measures and everything related to halting the cholera epidemic.”
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