USAFE-AFAFRICA surgeon general takes home prestigious humanitarian assistance award

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Ryan Crane
  • U.S. Air Forces in Europe - Air Forces Africa
U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa international health specialist, or IHS, branch earned the 2013 Annual Meeting of the Society of Federal Health Agencies Humanitarian Assistance award for their contributions to improving medical programs in Europe and Africa.

The award recognizes an organization, team or individual for a direct meritorious, out of the ordinary participation in a significant act or operation of a humanitarian nature.

The USAFE team oversaw 68 building partnership capacity missions in 57 countries throughout Europe and Africa. Some missions included events, such as the African Partnership Station where the IHS coordinated a team to interface with the Cameroon Naval Forces, training on medical practices that included primary care, HIV/AIDS prevention and family planning.

"It is a tremendous honor for the team and recognition for all of their hard work," said Col. Colin Smyth, the USAFE-AFAFRICA surgeon general medical readiness director.

Their team's accomplishments were highlighted in an award package against six different government agencies including the Army, Navy and Public Health Service. Despite the stiff competition, the USAFE IHS team proved to be the best in 2013.

"This award recognizes the efforts of our international health specialists and highlights our work above those of other U.S. federal agencies," said Lt. Col. Enrique Rosado, the IHS team chief. "I am very proud of leading this team of medics, with limited resources, frequently in austere environments, has accomplished extraordinary deeds.

"All these activities help to strengthen our partner nations' humanitarian and disaster response capabilities while enriching the medical skills of local medical providers and improving the lives of local populations," Rosado said.

The team was also recognized for their innovative plan, which identified more than $1.1 million worth of medical equipment and supplies that were slated to be turned in. They made sure the equipment was safe and operational so it could be packaged and shipped to various African and European partner nations to be used for patient treatment.They also integrated the delivery of these packages with building partnership capacity events where they would teach and share information with their counterparts on how to use the equipment.

"(Winning this award) provides independent, external affirmation that our international health specialist team is making a positive difference," Smyth said. "They continually strive to support the USAFE-AFAFRICA commander's strategic priorities, goals and objectives, which, in turn, support the strategic priorities of our two combatant commanders in strengthening theater security cooperation."

Rosado said that the IHS team has a busy year ahead of them in 2014.

"For this year we have plans to continue working agencies in 19 European and 21 African countries," Rosado explained. "We plan to address a wide variety of topics from public health initiatives to the development of medical assets as part of disaster preparedness. We are looking forward to a very productive year."