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Federal Health Authorities and Partner Nations Discuss Ebola Perspectives, Lessons Learned and Best Practices in Military Medical Conference

Federal Health Authorities and Partner Nations Discuss Ebola Perspectives, Lessons Learned and Best Practices in Military Medical Conference

By Dialogo
December 22, 2014




West Africa’s Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) crisis and the threat of its spread have taken global health security to the top of the priority list for health authorities in Europe, the United States and Latin America.

Fighting Ebola was one of the topics discussed at the 2014 conference of the Association of Military Surgeons of the United States (AMSUS) in Washington, D.C. from December 2-5, where hundreds of U.S. and international federal government health officials and guests gathered to discuss regional perspectives on the matter.

Rudolph Cachuela, U.S. Southern Command’s (SOUTHCOM) Command Surgeon, led a session with medical colleagues from the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO) and World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Office for the Americas, the U.S. Agency for International Development’s Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (USAID/OFDA), and the Center for Diseases and Humanitarian Assistance Medicine (CDHAM) to share their perspective on EVD prevention and education in Latin America.

According to the AMSUS introduction, the main purpose of the session, whose participants included senior military officers of countries in the Americas, was to have a discussion on the essential aspects of Ebola readiness and response that the militaries in each country should take into consideration in order to play an active role in the readiness and response of the disease in their respective countries.

“We conducted our session for representatives from our partner nation Ministries of Defense, and addressed generalized EVD information as well as more specific information,” said Col. Cachuela. But the word spread among international delegates, and representatives from U.S. Africa Command, U.S. European Command, U.S. Pacific Command, U.S. Northern Command, and countries including Belgium, Canada, Chile, Colombia, France, Germany, Guatemala, Jamaica, Mexico, New Zealand, Panama, Peru, Philippines, Senegal, Singapore, Uruguay and the United States turned up in attendance.

Dr. Ciro Ugarte, director of Emergency Preparedness and Disaster Response at PAHO/WHO; Tim Callahan, Senior Regional Advisor for USAID/OFDA; Dr. Ronald St. John, PAHO Ebola Incident Manager; Colonel James Czarnik, Command Surgeon at U.S. Army Africa’s Command; U.S. Navy Captain David Tarantino, medical doctor with the CDHAM; and Bryna Brennan, PAHO Risk and Outbreak Communication Consultant, joined Col. Cachuela to discuss topics ranging from the management of health emergencies; detection, transportation and isolation of confirmed EVD patients; lessons learned on infection control, use of PPE, waste management and contained materials, and management of dead bodies; civil-military planning for the disease; protocols and procedures for the mobilization and return of the troops serving abroad, particularly those working in peace keeping operations in West Africa; and risk communications on the disease.

Dr. St. John presented an interesting perspective, saying the three West African countries currently affected with EVD have 20.4 million people altogether, among which there are 16,000 reported cases of the disease and 7,000 deaths so far. “That means that about 20,385,000 people do not have the disease, but may be infected and incubating it,” said Dr. St. John. “How many of those incubating EVD are well enough to get on a plane and leave one of the three airports?” he asked. With data including the fact that air traffic for the three airports in 2009 was 550,000, although much lower now due to the curtailment of flights, he stated that exit screening has limitations and thus, “it is unlikely that one of those people will be detected at the point of entry [of their destination].”

So, where will the next case be found? At the door of the hospital or clinic where those people end up, he said. “The new port of entry for infectious diseases are these hospitals or clinics where the astute health care worker is the new ‘immigration official’, and if you are not astute, you may be the second case,” he concluded.

Clearly, information and communicating it accurately and in a timely manner are key to avoiding unnecessary alarm in the population. According to Brennan’s discussion on risk communications on Ebola, sending mixed messages from the authorities translates into a state of alarm and a lack of trust by the population. “Alarm in the population leads to uncertainty, fear, anger and anxiety, thereby creating a need for timely, clear, useful information.”

Risk communication, according to the WHO’s International Health Regulations, is defined as an integral component of public health risk management. It is focused on dialogue with those affected and concerned and strives to ensure communication strategies are evidence based.

The role of risk communications during public health emergencies, therefore, is aimed at helping at-risk populations make informed decisions; encourage protective behaviors from public and health care workers; complement existing surveillance systems; coordinate health and non-health partners; minimize social and economic disruption; and build trust required to prepare for, respond to and recover from serious public health threats,” said Brennan.

Capt. Tarantino’s brief on preparedness and response planning for health emergencies was a good summary of the overall presentation, stating that health equals security. “No one nation can achieve global health security on its own. The vitality of the global economy is only as secure as the collective health of our people, and in today’s increasingly interconnected world we remain vulnerable,” he concluded.





West Africa’s Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) crisis and the threat of its spread have taken global health security to the top of the priority list for health authorities in Europe, the United States and Latin America.

Fighting Ebola was one of the topics discussed at the 2014 conference of the Association of Military Surgeons of the United States (AMSUS) in Washington, D.C. from December 2-5, where hundreds of U.S. and international federal government health officials and guests gathered to discuss regional perspectives on the matter.

Rudolph Cachuela, U.S. Southern Command’s (SOUTHCOM) Command Surgeon, led a session with medical colleagues from the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO) and World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Office for the Americas, the U.S. Agency for International Development’s Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (USAID/OFDA), and the Center for Diseases and Humanitarian Assistance Medicine (CDHAM) to share their perspective on EVD prevention and education in Latin America.

According to the AMSUS introduction, the main purpose of the session, whose participants included senior military officers of countries in the Americas, was to have a discussion on the essential aspects of Ebola readiness and response that the militaries in each country should take into consideration in order to play an active role in the readiness and response of the disease in their respective countries.

“We conducted our session for representatives from our partner nation Ministries of Defense, and addressed generalized EVD information as well as more specific information,” said Col. Cachuela. But the word spread among international delegates, and representatives from U.S. Africa Command, U.S. European Command, U.S. Pacific Command, U.S. Northern Command, and countries including Belgium, Canada, Chile, Colombia, France, Germany, Guatemala, Jamaica, Mexico, New Zealand, Panama, Peru, Philippines, Senegal, Singapore, Uruguay and the United States turned up in attendance.

Dr. Ciro Ugarte, director of Emergency Preparedness and Disaster Response at PAHO/WHO; Tim Callahan, Senior Regional Advisor for USAID/OFDA; Dr. Ronald St. John, PAHO Ebola Incident Manager; Colonel James Czarnik, Command Surgeon at U.S. Army Africa’s Command; U.S. Navy Captain David Tarantino, medical doctor with the CDHAM; and Bryna Brennan, PAHO Risk and Outbreak Communication Consultant, joined Col. Cachuela to discuss topics ranging from the management of health emergencies; detection, transportation and isolation of confirmed EVD patients; lessons learned on infection control, use of PPE, waste management and contained materials, and management of dead bodies; civil-military planning for the disease; protocols and procedures for the mobilization and return of the troops serving abroad, particularly those working in peace keeping operations in West Africa; and risk communications on the disease.

Dr. St. John presented an interesting perspective, saying the three West African countries currently affected with EVD have 20.4 million people altogether, among which there are 16,000 reported cases of the disease and 7,000 deaths so far. “That means that about 20,385,000 people do not have the disease, but may be infected and incubating it,” said Dr. St. John. “How many of those incubating EVD are well enough to get on a plane and leave one of the three airports?” he asked. With data including the fact that air traffic for the three airports in 2009 was 550,000, although much lower now due to the curtailment of flights, he stated that exit screening has limitations and thus, “it is unlikely that one of those people will be detected at the point of entry [of their destination].”

So, where will the next case be found? At the door of the hospital or clinic where those people end up, he said. “The new port of entry for infectious diseases are these hospitals or clinics where the astute health care worker is the new ‘immigration official’, and if you are not astute, you may be the second case,” he concluded.

Clearly, information and communicating it accurately and in a timely manner are key to avoiding unnecessary alarm in the population. According to Brennan’s discussion on risk communications on Ebola, sending mixed messages from the authorities translates into a state of alarm and a lack of trust by the population. “Alarm in the population leads to uncertainty, fear, anger and anxiety, thereby creating a need for timely, clear, useful information.”

Risk communication, according to the WHO’s International Health Regulations, is defined as an integral component of public health risk management. It is focused on dialogue with those affected and concerned and strives to ensure communication strategies are evidence based.

The role of risk communications during public health emergencies, therefore, is aimed at helping at-risk populations make informed decisions; encourage protective behaviors from public and health care workers; complement existing surveillance systems; coordinate health and non-health partners; minimize social and economic disruption; and build trust required to prepare for, respond to and recover from serious public health threats,” said Brennan.

Capt. Tarantino’s brief on preparedness and response planning for health emergencies was a good summary of the overall presentation, stating that health equals security. “No one nation can achieve global health security on its own. The vitality of the global economy is only as secure as the collective health of our people, and in today’s increasingly interconnected world we remain vulnerable,” he concluded.


You have to see this because right now we live in a world where no one believes in anyone else. Gentlemen, please... think about it and analyze it Let us hope this virus goes away
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