In partnership with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), U.S. Africa Command has worked since 2008 to establish a Pandemic Response Program (PRP) aimed at assisting African militaries to develop influenza pandemic response plans that are integrated into their country’s overall national response plans.
The potential for a pandemic influenza event in Africa is high due to the level of cross-border travel and trade. The healthcare systems within the majority of African nations are vulnerable to any excess capacity that may result from such a pandemic. Militaries can play key roles in the event of a pandemic, working in collaboration with other governmental, non-governmental and international organizations to maintain security, provide logistical support for food, medicine and other commodities, maintain communications, and provide augmented
PRP strives to improve the capacity for regional stability in the event of a complex emergency such as a pandemic event. Towards these ends, PRP provides training and technical assistance and identifies, and at times purchases, limited equipment needed for selected countries.
Although USAID is the U.S. lead agency for the pandemic response preparedness program, Congressional appropriations have also been made available through USAID to enable Department of Defense Combatant Commands (COCOMs) to develop military-to-military engagement programs as a key component of such a response.
Planning and Preparedness Assessments: Detailed planning and preparedness assessments of selected countries are conducted by U.S. AFRICOM, component commands and other DoD organizations as required. Once assessments are complete, detailed activity design on a country-by-country basis will take place.
Military Pandemic Response Plans: Country-level military pandemic response (contingency) plans to support national plans are developed in coordination with USAID, the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and other organizations in each country.
Pandemic Preparedness Training Programs: Pandemic response training and exercise programs focus on exercising military Pandemic Influenza (PI) response plans, developing military pandemic rapid response teams, training military health personnel in PI control and case management, training military security personnel in quarantine operations, and/or developing military public response campaigns. They also include national, provincial, and regional table-top exercises, in collaboration with appropriate civilian authorities and in coordination with USAID.
Legal and Procedural Frameworks: The program also assists with legal doctrine development, policy, and procedural frameworks to ensure the military plays an appropriate role in the event of a pandemic.
Frequently Asked Questions
How does the request process work?
The program is primarily managed from U.S. Africa Command headquarters with country oversight and coordination by the Office of Security Cooperation and/or Defense Attaché Offices to establish necessary contacts with national government officials as well as support coordination visits and access to the country teams. It is implemented in close coordination with USAID’s Human Pandemic Influenza (H2P) Program on the African continent.
Do the program elements happen separately, in phases, or are all aspects applied as part of an over arching program?
The program elements are designed to follow a logical sequence that begins with an assessment of current capabilities, then outlining a plan that brings together all necessary elements and response agencies, and finally designing a training program that will result in building that necessary capacity for local, regional and state-wide response.
How many African regional groups have been successfully trained? Do they receive continuing education?
At the regional level, the Center for Disaster and Humanitarian Assistance Medicine (CDHAM) works in collaboration with the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre in Ghana and the International Peace Support Training Centre in Kenya to enhance curriculum in support of military preparedness and response.
What end state does this program strive to obtain?
The overall objective of the Pandemic Response Program is to promote stability and security and enhance African partner nations’ military capacity to plan for and respond to a pandemic disaster.