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U.S. AFRICOM Surgeon's Conference Focuses on Medical Stability Ops and Strengthening Relationship with African Union
Training doctors and health professionals within militaries is necessary for providing effective health support in military operations, according to the African Union&#39;s sole physician and medical planning officer. <br /> <br />Lieutenant
STUTTGART, Germany - Colonel Robert Miller, command surgeon for U.S. Africa Command, briefs attendees of AFRICOM's 3rd annual Command Surgeon's Conference, September 27-29, 2011 at Patch Barracks in Stuttgart, Germany. The conference, with the theme "Medical Stability Operations - The Way Forward," brought together personnel from AFRICOM service components and interagency representatives to coordinate on building military health system capability and capacity in Africa. (U.S. AFRICOM photo by Danielle Skinner)
2 photos: U.S. AFRICOM Photo
Photo 1 of 2: STUTTGART, Germany - Colonel Robert Miller, command surgeon for U.S. Africa Command, briefs attendees of AFRICOM's 3rd annual Command Surgeon's Conference, September 27-29, 2011 at Patch Barracks in Stuttgart, Germany. The conference, with the theme "Medical Stability Operations - The Way Forward," brought together personnel from AFRICOM service components and interagency representatives to coordinate on building military health system capability and capacity in Africa. (U.S. AFRICOM photo by Danielle Skinner) Download full-resolution version
STUTTGART, Germany - Dr. Jun Bando, special advisor to the commander, U.S. Africa Command, briefs attendees of AFRICOM's 3rd annual Command Surgeon's Conference, September 27-29, 2011 at Patch Barracks in Stuttgart, Germany. The conference, with the theme "Medical Stability Operations - The Way Forward," brought together personnel from AFRICOM service components and interagency representatives to coordinate on building military health system capability and capacity in Africa. (U.S. AFRICOM photo by Danielle Skinner)
2 photos: U.S. AFRICOM Photo
Photo 2 of 2: STUTTGART, Germany - Dr. Jun Bando, special advisor to the commander, U.S. Africa Command, briefs attendees of AFRICOM's 3rd annual Command Surgeon's Conference, September 27-29, 2011 at Patch Barracks in Stuttgart, Germany. The conference, with the theme "Medical Stability Operations - The Way Forward," brought together personnel from AFRICOM service components and interagency representatives to coordinate on building military health system capability and capacity in Africa. (U.S. AFRICOM photo by Danielle Skinner) Download full-resolution version
STUTTGART, Germany - Colonel Robert Miller, command surgeon for U.S. Africa Command, briefs attendees of AFRICOM's 3rd annual Command Surgeon's Conference, September 27-29, 2011 at Patch Barracks in Stuttgart, Germany. The conference, with the theme "Medical Stability Operations - The Way Forward," brought together personnel from AFRICOM service components and interagency representatives to coordinate on building military health system capability and capacity in Africa. (U.S. AFRICOM photo by Danielle Skinner)
STUTTGART, Germany - Dr. Jun Bando, special advisor to the commander, U.S. Africa Command, briefs attendees of AFRICOM's 3rd annual Command Surgeon's Conference, September 27-29, 2011 at Patch Barracks in Stuttgart, Germany. The conference, with the theme "Medical Stability Operations - The Way Forward," brought together personnel from AFRICOM service components and interagency representatives to coordinate on building military health system capability and capacity in Africa. (U.S. AFRICOM photo by Danielle Skinner)
Training doctors and health professionals within militaries is necessary for providing effective health support in military operations, according to the African Union's sole physician and medical planning officer.

Lieutenant Colonel (Doctor) Mashole Simon Leopeng, who coordinates medical support for the African Standby Force, a multinational peacekeeping force under the direction of the African Union, joined more than 50 health experts for U.S. Africa Command's 3rd Annual Command Surgeon's Conference, September 27-29, 2011, in Stuttgart, Germany.

Training of medical professionals was among the topics discussed during the three-day conference, which brought together personnel from U.S. AFRICOM's service components and interagency representatives to coordinate strengthening military health system capability and capacity in Africa.

Leopeng expressed how important the partnership between the African Union and U.S. AFRICOM is in addressing medical challenges within Africa, which he said centered largely around lack of funding for training and medical supplies.

"My objective for being here is to come and establish closer relations with AFRICOM as our partner because of those challenges in the African Union," he said. "From this conference I hope to establish closer relations at the same time so we can move forward on matters that will be beneficial to the African Union and the African continent."

The conference consisted of working groups to discuss force health protection, clinical issues, infectious disease, training, planning efforts, and other issues, along with briefings on interagency coordination. The group also had the opportunity to discuss a soon-to-be released manual developed by U.S. Africa Command to assist with training efforts. This tool was designed to provide detailed guidance and instruction on how to conduct and measure medical civil military operations in Africa.

AFRICOM's Command Surgeon Colonel Bob Miller explained that two specialists from the command's medical division had visited the African Union headquarters for an initial meeting, but this is the first time that the African Union physician has been able to come to Germany to meet with AFRICOM officials.

"As we are getting to know each other and learn about each other's organizations, sometimes you don't know what to ask for until you understand what their needs are and what is available to support," Miller said. "I've been waiting for this opportunity for the last year and a half."

Miller told the audience, "A lot of the good things we're doing that not only support our troops that support our African partners and their militaries, but also support civilians, are equally a concern of General Ham's." General Carter Ham is the commander of U.S. Africa Command.

Malaria prevention is a priority for Africa Command as it poses a significant threat to African stability because of the effect it has on military health and readiness. Miller explained that African service members develop some natural immunity to the disease in their home countries, but when they deploy to other regions, they are just as susceptible as U.S. service members.

"They share the same challenges we do," he said. "It's about doing prevention, surveillance, diagnoses, and treatment better."

Miller said he hopes that the conference will synchronize the efforts of the command's component organizations to strengthen military health system capability and capacity on the African continent.

"As we're evolving and we're maturing in what we're doing," he said, "this is a great opportunity to get everyone on the same page, and make sure they understand General Ham's mission vision, my priorities, and what the way forward for the upcoming year will be."
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