HomeNewsArticle Display

Emerging infectious disease training event bolsters medical readiness

Publio Gonzalez, a biologist with the Gorgas Institute, holds a bat in Meteti, Panama, June 6, 2018. Gonzalez and U.S. military doctors were participating in an Emerging Infectious Diseases Training Event, in which they received informational lectures from Panamanian infectious disease experts and field studies of possible virus-carrying wildlife and insects. The event took place during Exercise New Horizons 2018, which is a joint training exercise where U.S. military members conduct training in civil engineer, medical, and support services while benefiting the local community. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Dustin Mullen)

Publio Gonzalez, a biologist with the Gorgas Institute, holds a bat in Meteti, Panama, June 6, 2018. Gonzalez and U.S. military doctors were participating in an Emerging Infectious Diseases Training Event, in which they received informational lectures from Panamanian infectious disease experts and field studies of possible virus-carrying wildlife and insects. The event took place during Exercise New Horizons 2018, which is a joint training exercise where U.S. military members conduct training in civil engineer, medical, and support services while benefiting the local community. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Dustin Mullen)

PANAMA CITY, Panama (AFNS) --

A team of U.S. military doctors, public health specialists and members of various other career fields participated in a week-long Emerging Infectious Diseases Training Event June 4-8, 2018, in Panama during the New Horizons 2018 humanitarian training exercise. The event, aimed at enhancing attendee cultural competencies and professional knowledge, consisted of briefings, lectures and a day of field study.

In collaboration with the Gorgas Institute, University of Panama and the Panamanian Ministry of Health, the team studied various diseases, the vectors that carry them and the ways Panama is combating the diseases.

“Infectious diseases are a huge issue for Southern Command when [thinking] about force health protection in this region,” said Lt. Col. Brian Neese, 346th Expeditionary Medical Operations Squadron commander. “We wanted to look at infectious diseases from the many different disciplines that come into it. Clinical medicine, preventative medicine, public health, laboratory specialties, expeditionary capabilities with aerospace medicine and collaboration with Global Health Specialists from the Navy; we brought all that together in this event.”

Throughout the week, the U.S. military doctors participated in lectures from Panamanian infectious disease experts and field studies of possible virus-carrying wildlife and insects.

New Horizons exercises have taken place in many countries throughout Central and South America, and training opportunities such as the Emerging Infectious Diseases Training Event allow military doctors to expand their cross cultural and global health knowledge.

“I have been really struck by the strategic importance of Panama in the United States’ biosecurity,” said Lt. Col. Heather Yun, 346th EMDOS infectious disease physician. “There are a lot of biological threats here in Central America, or that try to come here from South America through human migration.”

According to Yun, due to the geographic location of Panama, the importance the country places on controlling diseases greatly benefits the U.S., as well as other Central American countries.

“Panamanian efforts to halt infectious disease transmission functions as a barrier for transmission of viruses such as yellow fever,” Yun said, noting Panama’s disease control methods. “If we didn’t have that kind of surveillance here, then the U.S. would be at increased risk of encroachment from a lot of vector-borne diseases.”

The Gorgas Institute leads the disease research efforts. Founded in 1929, this world-renowned organization’s mission is to promote public health and contribute to research and teaching for the benefit of the population.

“The first thing that strikes me about Panamanians is that they are extremely organized, particularly the Gorgas Institute, which is a jewel,” said Lt. Col Mark Breidenbaugh, 346th EMDOS entomologist. “They have quality people and are funded at a level where they can do the work they need to do. They are doing cutting-edge molecular biology so they can recognize genetic material in their samples and therefore recognize exactly what kind of virus they are working with.”

Working with Panamanian doctors could potentially better equip U.S. doctors to recognize and react to various tropical diseases.

“Anytime you go overseas to a different culture, different language and a different way of doing things, it only increases readiness,” Yun said. “Because of the assets they have here, there is a lot of direct translatability between what we do in the U.S. We are always looking for ways to collaborate on research projects.”

Beyond just tropical diseases, creating bonds between the different specialties and organizations can aid in future research.

“I am thankful to come down here and do this because I believe in the global health interactions we are doing,” Breidenbaugh said. “In one sense, we are all diplomats. We are representing our country on an individual basis. I have already had requests from Panamanians to put them in touch with certain researchers I know.”

Engage

Facebook Twitter
Our thoughts and prayers goes out to the friends and family members during this difficult time. https://t.co/848Rx4CdVU
RT @HQAirUniversity: Lt. Gen. James Hecker assumed command of Air University today.  Welcome to AU, Sir! https://t.co/SZVOVZDo78 https://t.…
RT @DeptofDefense: Music is a universal language. It’s a unifying language. Over the summer, the @usairforce music ensemble, Final Approach…
RT @JointBasePHH: #DYK that here at JBPHH, Hawai'i Air National Guard and active duty @usairforce members work side-by-side to generate air…
RT @RamsteinAirBase: @SecAFOfficial and @GenDaveGoldfein have arrived at the #WorldsBestWing! If given the chance, what would you ask the…
RT @AFSpace: We have to combat today's conflict with tomorrow's technology. Check out what Dr. @neiltyson had to say about innovation when…
RT @HQUSAFEPA: Airmen with #AFAFRICA and the @AirNatlGuard, along with 25 African partner nations, are currently in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire,…
Want to know more about @SecAFOfficial Barbara Barrett? Read on to hear her story. https://t.co/3HPtw0tO4t https://t.co/6FtIZZ7RJh
RT @WhiteHouse: The artists and pioneers receiving the National Medal of the Arts today have entertained millions, enriched American art an…
RT @71FTW: An aircraft mishap has occured on Vance AFB. Follow #VanceUpdates for more information.
RT @CJTFOIR: #CJTFOIR Airmen received coins from @GenDaveGoldfein during a trip with @SecAFOfficial to forward operating base Union III, Ir…
RT @KadenaAirBase: "In order to #operate, all you need is a runway, a ramp, fuel bladder, a trailer full of munitions, a pallet of MREs, an…
RT @AFCareers: Air Force releases details of FY20 Selective Retention Bonus program, effective tomorrow. #airforce https://t.co/yhLx2wl7lb…
RT @HQUSAFEPA: “Moving forward, we must be the blunt force ready to counterpunch when deterrence fails...the tyranny of proximity makes wor…
RT @USAFHealth: Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation, Critical Care Air Transport, and Aeromedical Evacuation teams came together on a histo…
#Airmen thinking of trying CBD oil should think again. Read on to see why... https://t.co/R2KXHaEi0A https://t.co/5190wr0AIm
RT @SecAFOfficial: Check out @USAFCENT #Airmen making a difference @455thAEW & #KandaharAirfield, Afghanistan 🇦🇫 They’re focused on mission…