By Cmdr. Timothy Powell, MC, Naval Medical Center Portsmouth
As the Continuing Promise 2015 (CP-15) Director of Surgical Services, aboard USNS Comfort (T-AH 20) our team is not only delivering exceptional surgical care, but also contributing to one of the many aspects of this mission, men’s health.
To provide a brief background on the mission, Continuing Promise is a U.S. Southern Command-sponsored and U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command/U.S. 4th Fleet-conducted deployment to conduct civil-military operations including humanitarian-civil assistance, subject matter expert exchanges, medical, dental, veterinary and engineering support and disaster response to partner nations and to show the United States’ continued support and commitment to Central and South America and the Caribbean.
Furthermore, our entire CP-15 team delivers joint, forward operating medical capabilities ashore and aboard Comfort, alongside host and partner nation medical professionals, while ensuring that both quality and capability are guaranteed to maximize the value of care at each mission stop, building partnership capacity as a result.
Prior to the commencement of CP-15, the pre-deployment site survey team worked closely in coordination with the participating host nations and their ministries of health to address the topic of men’s health. These pre-deployment engagements allowed lead planners to emphasize the importance of this topic and identify implementation in the mission’s 11 planned stops in Belize, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Honduras, Panama, Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Jamaica and Nicaragua.
While deployed in support of CP-15, the team has been given the opportunity to engage in subject matter expert exchanges at each mission stop. This has allowed us to collaborate with each country’s medical providers to offer important men’s health education to the local population, in close coordination with host nation governments and their ministries of health. Without a doubt, the opportunity to be a part of the CP-15 mission has been one of the highlights of my career.
To date, we have held two men’s health seminars, one in Jamaica, and another in Nicaragua. We’ve put together a team of physicians in each country to provide lectures on topics from three different specialties including Urology, Endocrinology and Cardiology.
Men’s Health Seminars have covered a variety of topics including prostate issues such as prostatitis (prostate inflammation or infection), benign enlargement of the prostate, prostate specific antigen (PSA) screening and prostate cancer. Other topics included testicular cancer, erectile dysfunction, hypogonadism (low testosterone), testosterone replacement, and heart health.
CP-15 providers and our host nation medical counterparts have focused on the symptoms related to these issues, how to make the diagnosis, various treatments, and prevention. In addition, the host nation providers offer a local perspective on these men’s health issues, as was done by a Jamaican Urologist, who discussed the local profile of prostate cancer. There are many common themes between these topics, including the idea that if it’s good for the heart, it’s probably also good for prevention of other men’s health related problems. Based on this understanding, we created a team consisting of fellowship trained medical specialists, in addition to my surgical subspecialty, for a collaborative approach.
Although our audience has primarily been men, we also highlight the importance of men’s health issues to women as well. Women play a vital role in ensuring their loved ones, to include husbands, fathers, brothers, sons and friends, receive the education, treatment and care necessary to address the various concerns and issues at hand. A team effort ensures that these sensitive topics are addressed, and having everyone involved in the conversation increases the support and encouragement needed to take a proactive approach to men’s health.
Our team looks forward to building partnerships and working alongside our host and partner nation medical professionals to deliver the education and collaboration necessary to address this critical topic.