Mosquito-borne diseases kill millions of people every year, and malaria alone puts 40 percent of the world’s population at risk, according to the World Health Organization.
That’s one reason why medical teams from coalition and East African Partner nations met to discuss regional and global diseases, viral infections and internal medicine at the Military Tropical Medicine event, May 10-12, 2016, at Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti. Medical representatives from the U.S., France, Germany, Italy and Djibouti were in attendance.
Military medical specialists from around the world shared knowledge of disease symptoms, treatment options and how viruses affect the body in a contingency environment. They also discussed treatment options that may vary based on geographical location.
“The course is pretty comprehensive,” said U.S. Navy Commander Ryan Maves, physician of infectious diseases. “We place a lot of emphasis on malaria, both in the recognition and treatment of malaria because we have ongoing cases of malaria in folks that deploy.”
Maves said the number of cases of deploying service members who contract malaria is small, but his goal is to help other deployed medical professionals recognize common tropical diseases in their area. Early recognition can improve patient treatment and can help prevent others from contracting those diseases.
Malaria, diarrheal and sexual diseases were addressed, as were HIV/AIDS, soft tissue infections and case studies.
“My aim is for physicians and medical staff to understand the diseases and enable them to correct and manage patients at each stage of the disease,” said French Army Capt. Emilie Javelle, internal medicine clinician. “I think it’s important to have the course here in Djibouti because it’s a country of tropical diseases and you may have to deal with patients with some of these diseases here.”
While medical professionals spend time learning symptoms, treatments and illness effects on service members in contingency environments, Maves advises everyone to take personal responsibility to minimize their risk of contracting food or water-borne illnesses, malaria, or worse.
“Consume just bottled water, be very cautious of what kind of food we consume on the economy, and stick to things that are thoroughly cooked,” he said. “If you fall ill, seek medical attention. Make sure we don’t spread respiratory diseases by coughing on people. In terms of malaria prevention, particularly since we’re in Africa, take and adhere to your malaria prophylaxis, such as doxycycline.”
With medical professionals trading their most effective treatment techniques and keeping current on regional illnesses, coalition partners and deployed service members stand a better chance of warding off illness and effectively treating the sick and wounded in the field.