The Department of Defense sponsored a symposium on civil-military health activities focusing on international humanitarian assistance, disaster relief and stability operations and reconstruction that ended today.
This first-ever interagency, international gathering highlighted the importance of civil-military medical issues and communicated ongoing activities and initiatives; established lines of communication and promoted inter-service, interagency and international coordination among appropriate participants; identified current DoD strengths and weaknesses in civil-military medicine; and developed specific strategies and recommendations for improvement.
Our recent experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan and with the Asian tsunami relief efforts as well as ongoing DoD medical security cooperation activities demonstrate that civil-military medicine is an increasingly vital field for the department, said Dr. William Winkenwerder Jr., the assistant secretary of defense for health affairs, who hosted the symposium. In states of conflict or emergency, there cannot be recovery, stability or reconstruction without dedicated attention to healthcare. Healthcare becomes the bridge to stability and security.
Symposium participants included the military services, joint staff, combatant commands, the Departments of Health and Human Services and State, Office of Federal Disaster Assistance, U.S. Agency for International Development, the World Health Organization, International Committee of the Red Cross, and other non-governmental organizations.
The international military and civil medical communities come together to aid those in need in the midst of conflict or during a major natural disaster and provide that assistance in a truly outstanding way, Winkenwerder said. With prior planning and cooperation, we can do more and do it better. That is our goal with this symposium.
Today, each work group reported to a senior panel of experts on their suggestions for improving policies, leadership, oversight, techniques, procedures, tactics, doctrine, education, training, personnel, organization, cooperation and communication.