CAMP LEMONNIER, Djibouti - U.S. personnel and medical providers from partner nations participated in a course dedicated to military tropical medicine at Camp Lemonnier, Nov. 15, 2016.
The Joint U.S. Military Tropical Medicine course is designed to train and instruct medical personnel in the practice of medicine for developing areas around the globe. The course covers topics such as malaria, HIV, yellow fever and other diseases.
Lt. Mariam Kwamin, who is assigend to the Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa, Environmental Health, coordinated the training event and invited guest speakers that are knowledgeable of the diseases in the U.S. Africa Command (USAFRICOM) area of operations.
“Because of the terrorist threats we face here, we are increasingly engaging with our African partner nations to provide support through training,” said Lt. Kwamin. “Depending on where U.S. troops are, they may be eating off the local economy and living in the same spaces as our African partners.”
Tropical diseases wreak havoc on the social and economic growth of Africa and affect the health and welfare of travelers. The tropical medical course supports the operational needs of USAFRICOM and the United States Special Operations Command.
“Tropical diseases have affected military operations throughout history and force health protection remains important,” said Lt. Cmdr. Nehkonti Adams, an Internal Medicine and Infectious Disease doctor and Director of the U.S. Military Medicine Course. “There have been numerous avoidable morbidity and mortality due to tropical diseases; some have hindered operations and some have been mission-ending events.”
The course in tropical medicine also detailed how traditional medicine interacts with modern medicine in the cultures of developing nations. Preventative measures and education are key factors in disease prevention in Africa.
“As a medical provider you may be able to treat or save the life of a foreign national you are working with, because you anticipated the threats and have medication that can treat the illness,” said Lt. Kwamin. “Tropical medicine isn't part of the standard U.S. medical provider training. That is why this course is important, you learn the skills needed to save a life downrange.”
The tropical medical course is a requirement for all medical professionals deploying to provide health care on the African continent. However, in circumstances when training could not be provided in the Continental United States (CONUS) the military brings the tropical medicine course to the area of operation.
“As Department of Defense activities begin to involve more humanitarian assistance and global health engagements, it is imperative that our service personnel are adequately trained and equipped to detect and handle a range of diseases,” said Lt. Cmdr. Adams. “This preparedness translates to effective management of cases and events and builds credibility with our foreign military partners and host nations.”