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African Military and Health Officials Gather for Malaria Symposium
U.S. Africa Command marked World Malaria Day with a three-day symposium, April 19-21, 2011, at Patch Barracks in Stuttgart, Germany to share information about preventing malaria, a disease which kills more than a million Africans yearly. <br /> <br
STUTTGART, Germany - Ambassador J. Anthony Holmes, U.S. Africa Command's deputy to the commander for civil-military activities, addresses participants of AFRICOM's Malaria Symposium, April 19, 2011 at Patch Barracks in Stuttgart, Germany. The three-day forum brought together military and public health delegates from the United States, Europe and Africa to discuss operational, strategic, and security implications of malaria in Africa, as well as successes and challenges in preventing the disease.  The event was sponsored by U.S. AFRICOM with support from the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Center and the Center for Disaster and Humanitarian Assistance Medicine (CDHAM). (U.S. AFRICOM photo by Danielle Skinner)
2 photos: U.S. AFRICOM Photo
Photo 1 of 2: STUTTGART, Germany - Ambassador J. Anthony Holmes, U.S. Africa Command's deputy to the commander for civil-military activities, addresses participants of AFRICOM's Malaria Symposium, April 19, 2011 at Patch Barracks in Stuttgart, Germany. The three-day forum brought together military and public health delegates from the United States, Europe and Africa to discuss operational, strategic, and security implications of malaria in Africa, as well as successes and challenges in preventing the disease. The event was sponsored by U.S. AFRICOM with support from the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Center and the Center for Disaster and Humanitarian Assistance Medicine (CDHAM). (U.S. AFRICOM photo by Danielle Skinner) Download full-resolution version
STUTTGART, Germany - Colonel (Retired) G. Dennis Shanks, director of Institute, Australian Defence Force, Australian Army Malaria Institute, provides the keynote address on the first day of U.S. Africa Command's Malaria Symposium, April 19, 2011. The three-day forum brought together military and public health delegates from the United States, Europe and Africa to discuss operational, strategic, and security implications of malaria in Africa, as well as successes and challenges in preventing the disease.  The event was sponsored by U.S. AFRICOM with support from the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Center and the Center for Disaster and Humanitarian Assistance Medicine (CDHAM). (U.S. AFRICOM photo by Danielle Skinner)
2 photos: U.S. AFRICOM Photo
Photo 2 of 2: STUTTGART, Germany - Colonel (Retired) G. Dennis Shanks, director of Institute, Australian Defence Force, Australian Army Malaria Institute, provides the keynote address on the first day of U.S. Africa Command's Malaria Symposium, April 19, 2011. The three-day forum brought together military and public health delegates from the United States, Europe and Africa to discuss operational, strategic, and security implications of malaria in Africa, as well as successes and challenges in preventing the disease. The event was sponsored by U.S. AFRICOM with support from the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Center and the Center for Disaster and Humanitarian Assistance Medicine (CDHAM). (U.S. AFRICOM photo by Danielle Skinner) Download full-resolution version
STUTTGART, Germany - Ambassador J. Anthony Holmes, U.S. Africa Command's deputy to the commander for civil-military activities, addresses participants of AFRICOM's Malaria Symposium, April 19, 2011 at Patch Barracks in Stuttgart, Germany. The three-day forum brought together military and public health delegates from the United States, Europe and Africa to discuss operational, strategic, and security implications of malaria in Africa, as well as successes and challenges in preventing the disease.  The event was sponsored by U.S. AFRICOM with support from the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Center and the Center for Disaster and Humanitarian Assistance Medicine (CDHAM). (U.S. AFRICOM photo by Danielle Skinner)
STUTTGART, Germany - Colonel (Retired) G. Dennis Shanks, director of Institute, Australian Defence Force, Australian Army Malaria Institute, provides the keynote address on the first day of U.S. Africa Command's Malaria Symposium, April 19, 2011. The three-day forum brought together military and public health delegates from the United States, Europe and Africa to discuss operational, strategic, and security implications of malaria in Africa, as well as successes and challenges in preventing the disease.  The event was sponsored by U.S. AFRICOM with support from the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Center and the Center for Disaster and Humanitarian Assistance Medicine (CDHAM). (U.S. AFRICOM photo by Danielle Skinner)
U.S. Africa Command marked World Malaria Day with a three-day symposium, April 19-21, 2011, at Patch Barracks in Stuttgart, Germany to share information about preventing malaria, a disease which kills more than a million Africans yearly.

Military and public health delegates from Africa, the United States, and Europe participated in the forum, during which they discussed operational, strategic, and security implications of malaria in Africa, as well as the successes and challenges in prevention strategies.

Malaria is a particular problem for militaries because of its ability to cause sudden epidemics which can hinder or even halt military operations, according to malaria expert Colonel (Retired) G. Dennis Shanks, Australian Defence Force, Australian Army Malaria Institute, who provided the keynote address.

Shanks provided a historical overview of the disease and its evolution, with an emphasis on how it impacted militaries who were conducting campaigns across Africa during World War I. "The vast majority of deaths had nothing to do with combat or the combatants themselves," Shanks explained. "More than 40,000 men died largely due to disease, mainly malaria and pneumonia."

Additionally, militaries are often called upon to assist in natural or manmade disasters which create refugee situations--an ideal setting for malaria outbreaks because of the influx of potential malaria carriers as well as environmental conditions.

"The trigger point for a malaria epidemic is really quite low. If you push people together--refugees, soldiers--whatever the situation is, you're at risk for epidemic malaria. This occurs in places where you would normally have high rates of malaria, and it occurs in places with relatively little malaria. Suddenly, the circumstances favor transmission, and it comes through," Shanks added.

Prevention strategies include taking anti-malarial medicine, sleeping under bed nets, use of insecticide and spray, and covering up with long sleeves and pants. According to Shanks, the best way to prevent malaria from spreading is to avoid having a large population in an endemic area, which is, he added, easier said than done.

U.S. AFRICOM's Deputy to the Commander for Civil-Military Activities, J. Anthony Holmes, also addressed the group on April 19, providing an overview of the command and answering questions. Holmes talked about his personal experiences with the disease from when he lived in Nairobi in 1985 and experienced the death of a work colleague from malaria. Understanding first-hand the importance of the medication, Holmes described how he had to wrestle with his small child at the time to force the liquid medicine into his mouth.

Holmes also explained that infectious disease, such as malaria and HIV/AIDS, is one of the five U.S. policy priorities in Africa determined by the U.S. State Department, along with conflict elimination and prevention, strengthening democracy, economic development, and focusing on trans-national threats.

During the second day of the symposium, African participants led discussions and talked about the successes and challenges they have seen in their home countries and regions.

The symposium was hosted by U.S. Africa Command with support from the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Center and the Center for Disaster and Humanitarian Assistance Medicine.

African representatives included military medical and public health delegates from the nations of Benin, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Senegal, Tanzania, and Uganda. Also in attendance were U.S. and European personnel from AFRICOM, U.S. European Command, U.S. Agency for International Development, Defense HIV/AIDS prevention program, World Health Organization, President's Malaria Initiative, Walter Reed Army Institute of Technology, U.S. Army Research Unit-Kenya, and Navy Medical Research Unit-Ghana detachment.
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