Navy Medicine Engages in Global Health: Leveraging its People, Organization and Capabilities

By Capt. Glendon Diehl, director, Navy Global Health Engagement

Pacific Partnership 2013
Our GHE related activities across the Navy Medicine enterprise are contributing to the National Security Strategy, the Geographic Combatant Commanders Theater Campaign Plan and the Navy’s Campaign Support Plan.

Hello everyone, December is DoD Global Health Engagement (GHE) month.

Your Navy Medicine team celebrated GHE month by participating in a panel forum with our GHE counterparts from the Air Force and the Army.  It was a lively discussion that lasted thirty minutes longer than anticipated and filled a lecture hall at the Uniformed Services University.  I received a number of questions on the Navy’s role in GHE. Navy Medicine has been on the forefront of engaging in global health activities by leveraging our people, our organization and our capabilities.  The missions we support are focused on Health Threat Mitigation, Force Health Protection, and Security Cooperation.   Our GHE related activities across the Navy Medicine enterprise are contributing to the National Security Strategy, the Geographic Combatant Commanders Theater Campaign Plan and the Navy’s Campaign Support Plan.

RIMPAC 2014
The missions we support are focused on Health Threat Mitigation, Force Health Protection, and Security Cooperation.

It’s also important to note the term global is mentioned five times in the first paragraph of the CNO’s Sailing Directions.  An excerpt states,  “Global partners, protect the maritime freedom that is the basis for global prosperity. Foster and sustain cooperative relationships with an expanding set of allies and international partners to enhance global security.  Navy Medicine’s contributions to GHE support many of the aspects mentioned in the CNO’s core responsibilities.  With The Global Health Engagement Office was established to facilitate the development of GHE capabilities, provide GHE related policy guidance and operational coordination and integrate Non-Governmental Organizations into the fabric of our missions where possible.  We also try to link together our Health Affairs Attaches (Vietnam and Papua New Guinea) with a number of other Liaison Officers embedded with Inter-Agency partners, NATO and the World Health Organization.

Pacific Partnership 2013
The Global Health Engagement Office was established to facilitate the development of GHE capabilities, provide GHE related policy guidance and operational coordination and integrate Non-Governmental Organizations into the fabric of our missions where possible.

Force Health Protection: Medical Research enhances our ability to operate successfully and promote public health at a national and global level. The Navy Medical Research Center (NMRC) has been a key contributor to our ability to succeed in many of our mission areas.  They provide global reach through the overseas operating labs, a number of multi-faceted research initiatives and the Defense HIV AIDS Prevention Program. The Navy Marine Corps Public Health Center (NMCPHC) provides force health protection through its Navy Environmental Preventive Medicine Units (NEPMUs) stationed in Norfolk, VA; San Diego, CA; Pearl Harbor, HI; and Rota, Spain.  These units serve the public health needs of the Navy, and house the expertise for the Forward Deployed Preventive Medicine Units (FDPMUs) capable of providing down range support for our warfighters. Navy Medicine will be participating the in the biennial Military Medicine R&D-focused Shoresh Conference with the Israeli Defense Force in March 2015. Navy Medicine will have the opportunity to provide a number of clinical and global health experts for the meeting with the focus on undersea and aerospace medicine.

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The Navy Marine Corps Public Health Center (NMCPHC) provides force health protection through its Navy Environmental Preventive Medicine Units (NEPMUs)

Security Cooperation: Navy Medicine’s support for Humanitarian Civic Assistance missions like Pacific Partnership and Continuing Promise have created opportunities to engage with Partner Nations,   build long-lasting mutual relationships and improve the readiness of our Navy service-members through mission execution.  The 24th Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) exercise featured health as a primary component of the agenda.  The USNS MERCY participated, as did many of the maritime nations in the Asia-Pacific AOR. Health Threat Mitigation: The Ebola crisis presented the international community with a challenge to combat the outbreak in West Africa before the crisis spread beyond the region.  With a lack of local laboratory facilities and expertise to provide quick and accurate testing and diagnosis, the Navy deployed mobile laboratory assets to the region, contributing to the whole of government approach that the United States has taken to supporting the global response, headed by the World Health Organization (WHO). The Ebola Crisis also opened up another door for Navy Medicine to maintain partnerships with its sister Services and the inter-agency.  Navy Medicine is utilizing several Navy Liaison Officers (LNOs) on-site within these organizations to better integrate and coordinate whole of government efforts in support of Operation Unified Assistance.

Naval Medical Research Center labs support Operation United Assistance
With a lack of local laboratory facilities and expertise to provide quick and accurate testing and diagnosis, the Navy deployed mobile laboratory assets to the region

Conclusion: The Navy Medicine Team is actively supporting all of the GHE mission sets around the world.  Our global presence is making a difference in opening doors, creating interoperability and developing capabilities that support our Allies and international partners.  In many instances this is improving the readiness of our Navy Medicine team by placing them in situations that require cultural context and understanding, as well as honing health delivery and research skills with our Partner Nations.  Navy Medicine’s GHE efforts are an example of readiness, jointness and value in action.  I am grateful that I have been able to work with different individuals and an organization that is committed to providing world class care anywhere…anytime.

RIMPAC 2014
Our global presence is making a difference in opening doors, creating interoperability and developing capabilities that support our Allies and international partners.