Medical professionals from the U.S., Djiboutian and French armed services gathered recently on Camp Lemonnier for a Military Tropical Medicine program, the first of its kind hosted by CJTF-HOA.
The three day event enabled attendees to exchange knowledge and share experiences about diseases common to the Horn of Africa, and featured discussions on the most deadly epidemics around the world.
“It’s ideal to learn together,” said U.S. Navy Capt. David Blazes, Military Tropical Medicine Course program director, Uniformed Services University, Naval Support Activity Bethesda, Maryland. “We impart our knowledge and they share their experiences. It’s a good way to build bridges across cultures.”
The course covered a host of topics to include medical ethics, diseases, diagnosis techniques and pest induced infections.
“We learned many more protocols to treat common diseases,” said Gueh Mohamed, Djibouti Armed Forces, general practitioner. “We also heard what new vaccines are available.”
The gathering was a forum for sharing of information, not just by the presenters but from the attendees as well.
“I learned how they diagnose and treat diseases,” said Blazes. ”They are generally challenged by lack of diagnostic resources, but are still able to provide great care. It’s different and thought provoking.”
There are many different styles of teaching in every part of the world and the curriculum encouraged open discussion between the nations.
“We are taught in a French medical school,” said Gueh. “They teach differently than in the U.S.”
Differences in training allowed for new thought processes and ideas to be exchanged by participants, specifically regarding diseases common in Eastern African countries.
“We have some basic knowledge of these diseases,” said Blazes. “They have the experience of actually treating them.”
The open exchange of information between partners can help treat diseases that are not common to the area and may appear due to advances in travel.
“Worldwide travel has increased the transmission of disease,” said Blazes. “It is easy to get on a plane and not show any symptoms or be an unknowing carrier.”
With troops moving in and out of the region, the U.S. shares a common concern to keep diseases at bay.
“We all share an interest with the Djiboutians to control these diseases,” said Blazes. “This course is a perfect forum to share best practices from both sides.”