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Pre-Deployment Course on Ebola Preparedness Yields Positive Results in El Salvador and Uruguay

Pre-Deployment Course on Ebola Preparedness Yields Positive Results in El Salvador and Uruguay

By Dialogo
December 22, 2014




Having partnered with the Defense Institute for Medical Operations (DIMO), the U.S. Southern Command’s (SOUTHCOM) Surgeon office recently executed a set of pre-deployment courses on Ebola precautions, recognition and response for Salvadoran and Uruguayan peace keeping operations (PKO) forces heading to the Democratic Republic of Congo and Mali in early 2015.

According to Dr. Violeta Menjivar, Salvadoran Minister of Public Health, “these events have better prepared El Salvador for a potential Ebola outbreak.” Dr. Menjivar met with Colonel Rudolph Cachuela, SOUTHCOM Command Surgeon, and with General David Munguía Payes, Salvadoran Minister of Defense, during the course execution, after which Col. Cachuela stated that SOUTHCOM would continue to support the U.S. Government and Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO) efforts to improve Ebola and infectious disease surveillance and response capabilities in their nation.

A total of 100 service members took the course in its two iterations in El Salvador, on December 2-5. It covered a wide range of Evola Virus Disease (EVD)-related topics, from more general themes to the history of the outbreaks and the evolution of the medical treatment.

Among the PKO/military medic participants were five Uruguayans —who participated not just to learn the material, but to also return to their country as trainers themselves— 44 Salvadorans and four Guatemalans. It’s noteworthy that many of the peacekeepers attending the course are officers in leadership positions of the units deploying to Africa.

According to Salvadoran Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Rafael Melara Medina, a participant and PKO member heading to Mali in 2015, “the course was invaluable; I’m positive that what we learned will make a difference in the security of our personnel and to accomplish our mission.”

Lt. Col. Melara added that even though Mali has been declared free of Ebola, the forces “will apply this knowledge and test our skills to avoid any individual and collective risk. It’s great that the United States is sharing this scientific capability and information with countries that may not have the resources, but which contribute to peace keeping operations around the world and Africa specifically, as in the case of El Salvador, Uruguay and Guatemala.”

In addition to teaching the course, the combined SOUTHCOM/DIMO team visited the quarantined barracks and projected Ebola Training Unit site at the Salvadoran Air Force’s 2nd Aviation Brigade. They also visited the airport health unit that would be responsible for screening and identifying potential EVD passengers within the airport in the case of a potential outbreak.

On December 8-9, Uruguay’s U.N.-accredited National School for Peace Operations (ENOPU) hosted the same course for 120 Uruguayan and Mexican peace keepers and healthcare workers. In this instance, the Uruguayan service members that attended the course in El Salvador assisted in teaching it in their home turf, following the train-the-trainer intent initiated with other medical education series facilitated by SOUTHCOM in the recent past.

According to Colonel Carlos Frachelle, ENOPU director, in an interview to Uruguayan daily El Observador,
that figure is significant, because up to now, the country’s military health services had only managed to train 80 students.

The SOUTHCOM/DIMO team visited the dedicated Ministry of Defense hospital that will serve as an Ebola treatment facility for both the military and civilian population in Uruguay in the case of confirmed infection. The facility has 450 beds with in-house laboratory capabilities and one floor with the potential for eight isolation rooms dedicated to EVD.

In addition to having the peace keeping units attend the course, the General Command of the Uruguayan Army required that at least one medic and one nurse from each unit within the Armed Forces take the course since they will be the ones taking in the peace keepers upon their return from deployment in Congo .
“Before now, the course had only been taught to medical personnel. Now, thanks to this opportunity, we are covering all of our bases,” added Col. Frachelle, also according to El Observador.


As a result, Uruguay will now conduct weekly trainings with selected personnel on their treatment protocols and patient care. Additionally, Dr. Marlene Sica Marquez, director general of the Ministry of Public Health, committed to continuing the train-the-trainer program by sending the newly-formed experts abroad to train the medical personnel of other partner nations.

“This event increased the level of operational preparedness and readiness of the personnel that participates in peace operations in the African region. At the same time, it confirmed the cooperation ties among partner nations contributing to world peace,” concluded Lt. Col. Melara.



Having partnered with the Defense Institute for Medical Operations (DIMO), the U.S. Southern Command’s (SOUTHCOM) Surgeon office recently executed a set of pre-deployment courses on Ebola precautions, recognition and response for Salvadoran and Uruguayan peace keeping operations (PKO) forces heading to the Democratic Republic of Congo and Mali in early 2015.

According to Dr. Violeta Menjivar, Salvadoran Minister of Public Health, “these events have better prepared El Salvador for a potential Ebola outbreak.” Dr. Menjivar met with Colonel Rudolph Cachuela, SOUTHCOM Command Surgeon, and with General David Munguía Payes, Salvadoran Minister of Defense, during the course execution, after which Col. Cachuela stated that SOUTHCOM would continue to support the U.S. Government and Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO) efforts to improve Ebola and infectious disease surveillance and response capabilities in their nation.

A total of 100 service members took the course in its two iterations in El Salvador, on December 2-5. It covered a wide range of Evola Virus Disease (EVD)-related topics, from more general themes to the history of the outbreaks and the evolution of the medical treatment.

Among the PKO/military medic participants were five Uruguayans —who participated not just to learn the material, but to also return to their country as trainers themselves— 44 Salvadorans and four Guatemalans. It’s noteworthy that many of the peacekeepers attending the course are officers in leadership positions of the units deploying to Africa.

According to Salvadoran Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Rafael Melara Medina, a participant and PKO member heading to Mali in 2015, “the course was invaluable; I’m positive that what we learned will make a difference in the security of our personnel and to accomplish our mission.”

Lt. Col. Melara added that even though Mali has been declared free of Ebola, the forces “will apply this knowledge and test our skills to avoid any individual and collective risk. It’s great that the United States is sharing this scientific capability and information with countries that may not have the resources, but which contribute to peace keeping operations around the world and Africa specifically, as in the case of El Salvador, Uruguay and Guatemala.”

In addition to teaching the course, the combined SOUTHCOM/DIMO team visited the quarantined barracks and projected Ebola Training Unit site at the Salvadoran Air Force’s 2nd Aviation Brigade. They also visited the airport health unit that would be responsible for screening and identifying potential EVD passengers within the airport in the case of a potential outbreak.

On December 8-9, Uruguay’s U.N.-accredited National School for Peace Operations (ENOPU) hosted the same course for 120 Uruguayan and Mexican peace keepers and healthcare workers. In this instance, the Uruguayan service members that attended the course in El Salvador assisted in teaching it in their home turf, following the train-the-trainer intent initiated with other medical education series facilitated by SOUTHCOM in the recent past.

According to Colonel Carlos Frachelle, ENOPU director, in an interview to Uruguayan daily El Observador,
that figure is significant, because up to now, the country’s military health services had only managed to train 80 students.

The SOUTHCOM/DIMO team visited the dedicated Ministry of Defense hospital that will serve as an Ebola treatment facility for both the military and civilian population in Uruguay in the case of confirmed infection. The facility has 450 beds with in-house laboratory capabilities and one floor with the potential for eight isolation rooms dedicated to EVD.

In addition to having the peace keeping units attend the course, the General Command of the Uruguayan Army required that at least one medic and one nurse from each unit within the Armed Forces take the course since they will be the ones taking in the peace keepers upon their return from deployment in Congo .
“Before now, the course had only been taught to medical personnel. Now, thanks to this opportunity, we are covering all of our bases,” added Col. Frachelle, also according to El Observador.


As a result, Uruguay will now conduct weekly trainings with selected personnel on their treatment protocols and patient care. Additionally, Dr. Marlene Sica Marquez, director general of the Ministry of Public Health, committed to continuing the train-the-trainer program by sending the newly-formed experts abroad to train the medical personnel of other partner nations.

“This event increased the level of operational preparedness and readiness of the personnel that participates in peace operations in the African region. At the same time, it confirmed the cooperation ties among partner nations contributing to world peace,” concluded Lt. Col. Melara.
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