Sunday, January 6, 2013

DOD Building Global Health

The Military Health System’s Global Health Engagement efforts help to stabilize medical operations, delivers healthcare in disadvantaged countries, identifies research opportunities to fight against infectious diseases, and participates in other humanitarian assistance endeavors in Africa, South America, and Afghanistan.

PATH, an international organization and the Department of Defense are improving global health for the world’s poorest populations. DOD and PATH support many research and development projects that address critical global health needs needed to support not only the military but also the health in developing countries

DOD provides support for PATH’s work through DARPA, the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research (WRAIR), and the U.S Naval Medical Research Center. DOD’s support enables the development of new technologies and vaccine approaches that are appropriate and affordable for low-resource communities.

PATH has initiated several DOD-funded projects for global health use. One of the projects helped Cascade Designs, Inc. adapt technology funded by DOD, to create a new generation of electrochlorinators to provide safe and affordable drinking water.

Research at WRAIR has contributed to developing an advanced malaria vaccine RTS.S. Following early research, the PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative partnered with RTS.S creator GlzxoSmithKline Biologicals to bring RTS.S to a large scale phase 3 clinical trials currently underway in seven African countries.  

To further education and training in Afghanistan, DOD and coalition partners are training and advising Afghan medical professionals on all aspects of healthcare from hospital administration to trauma care. The DOD approach to training is to pair up mentors with mentees to build a foundation for a sustainable system that will be run by the Afghans and increase the overall health security in the country.  

Today, Afghanistan’s five national army hospitals are already being run by Afghan military medical personnel in partnership with coalition military medical trainers. As a result, one sign of success is the drop in mortality rates at Afghanistan’s National Army’s hospital, a 400 bed hospital in Kabul. A year after the intensive care unit was set up at the hospital and at their regional hospitals ICU mortality fell from 16 percent to 6 percent.

The Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) recently published the report “The U.S. Department of Defense & Global Health” to provide a comprehensive look at DOD’s role in global health by examining DOD’s organizational structure, activities, strategy, policies, and budget related to global health.

The report discusses key issues for policymakers and global health stakeholders as they consider how DOD fits into the larger global health landscape.