Dr. William Winkenwerder Jr., assistant secretary of defense for health affairs, hosted the 35th International Congress on Military Medicine last week in the metropolitan Washington D.C. area. More than four hundred attendees from 70 countries participated in the congress, designed to share experiences and discuss advances on diverse health topics of importance to military medicine. The theme of the congress was Humanitarian Assistance for Natural and Man-Made Disasters. Presentations, posters and abstracts were offered on humanitarian assistance, emerging infectious diseases including HIV/AIDS and Avian Flu, new concepts and technologies in military medicine, medical preparedness and crisis response, public health and preventive medicine, general military health and organization of medical services.
Guest speakers included U.S. and international experts who shared details about specific programs directly supporting the theme of the congress. Speakers included Ambassador Randall Tobias, global AIDS coordinator for the U.S. Department of State, the David S. C. Chu, under secretary of defense for personnel and readiness, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Dr. Julie Gerberding, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and other distinguished experts.
Chu charged the congress participants in his welcoming remarks to maintain and to strengthen the bonds between all medical services of congress delegations represented, to promote medico-military scientific activities, and to participate in the development of the medial and medico-military aspects of humanitarian operations.
The congress passed two important resolutions, one establishing a memorandum of agreement to help address worldwide disease outbreaks between the World Health Organization and the congress members, and a second that emphasized the critical need for stepping up the fight against HIV/AIDS. The latter was especially important given that HIV has spread broadly into the military populations of many countries and has the potential to seriously adversely affect military capability and therefore national or regional security.
Winkenwerder recommended that participants Seize this opportunity to share your ideas, learn from the distinguished speakers and your colleagues, and capture the synergies that we, as the military medical community, can uniquely offer the greater good of mankind.
The international congress is one of the venues of the International Committee of Military Medicine that assists in bringing member-state delegates together for discussions and scientific debate on current and future issues affecting military medicine. The congress also offers a forum for sharing scientific advances among participants. The 35th Congress is the first the United States has hosted since 1939. The 36th Congress will be held June 5-11, 2005, in St. Petersburg, Russia.
Abstracts selected for publication are available online at: