Through the creation of the Brazilian Armed Forces’ Joint Operational Medical Center (C Cj Med Op FA, in Portuguese), the Brazilian Ministry of Defense (MD, in Portuguese) seeks to provide a center of excellence in the field of operational medicine to train military and civilian health professionals. The new structure, scheduled to open by the end of 2021, will be located at the Mocanguê Naval Complex by the Brazilian Navy Fleet Command (MB, in Portuguese), in Niterói, Rio de Janeiro.
The project, coordinated by MD’s Interoperability in Subsistence and Operational Medicine Department, focuses on the use of modern technologies for medical simulation to develop doctrine and train in operational medicine. The new structure will be available to service members and auxiliary and civil defense forces.
The center, said MB Commander Hemerson dos Santos Luz, MD Operational Medicine coordinator, will train service members and civilians to assist in emergency, trauma, medical intelligence, and health planning for joint and peacekeeping operations. “The goal is to apply modern knowledge to the care of those wounded in combat, in medical response during crisis and disaster situations, among others,” he said.
According to Cmdr. Hemerson, the need for an operational medical joint center has been raised since 2012. “Some events contributed to the development of the project, such as the 2013 doctrinal meeting on Medical Support in Joint and Peace Operations, with the participation of the Armed Forces, and the 2014 Joint and Peace Operations Medical Support Seminar. In 2015, MD considered the project strategic,” the officer said.
The center will facilitate integration between the armed forces and civil defense agencies in scenarios that may require complex medical intervention in critical and restricted environments, and humanitarian operations. “Service members in the medical field will be able to speak the same language and use standard equipment,” Cmdr. Hemerson said.
In June 2018, an MD committee visited the Mocanguê Naval Complex to assess the future site of the joint center and attend a coordination meeting with project leaders. Brazilian Army (EB, in Portuguese) service members and officers assigned to the project attended the meeting.
Rear Admiral Humberto Giovanni Canfora Mies, director of the Brazilian Navy’s Operational Medical Center (CMOpM, in Portuguese), was among the participants. In addition to identifying the site where the center will be erected, the officer said the meeting established a dialogue with representatives of the forces tasked to identify the main needs of the center. Currently, MB has CMOpM; EB has the Operational Health Course at the Logistics Sergeant School; and the Air Force has the Airspace Medical Institute.
“The Armed Forces have their own characteristics due to unique operational aspects. Each force’s operational medical centers will preserve their capacities to meet specific demands,” said Rear Adm. Canfora. “In the Navy, for instance, there is a focus on Surface Warfare Medicine—as healthcare on warships is known—on Submarine Medicine, and on Glacial Medicine, the latter derived from Antarctic operations.”
Better trained service members
For Rear Adm. Canfora, the creation of a joint center will result in better trained and better equipped service members in the health field. The center will also prepare them to work efficiently in the various scenarios Brazilian troops face. “Institutions that aim for better knowledge of operational medicine, organizing and incorporating it into the Armed Forces, all while taking a responsible, consistent, and clear approach, are essential,” he said.
The experience and knowledge of the military’s operational medical centers can greatly contribute to the development of C Cj Med Op FA, the officer said. “For example, since 2009, the Navy Operational Center develops operational medical doctrine ranging from the activation and operation of a hospital ship to the preparation of pre-hospital medical response for a radiological or nuclear accident at a naval base,” he said.
Military medicine is relevant not only in hypothetical scenarios, such as war, explained Rear Adm. Canfora. “It’s also important during operations to guarantee law and order, United Nations peacekeeping operations, and humanitarian operations, which bring numerous benefits to society and the Brazilian government,” he concluded.