FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 6, 2009
Contact: OPHS Communications Office
Memorandum of Understanding Solidifies Global Health Diplomacy Efforts between the U.S. Public Health Service and SOUTHCOM
MIAMI –Assistant Secretary for Health Joxel Garcia, M.D., M.B.A., a four-star admiral in the U.S. Public Health Service, has announced a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Public Health Service and the U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) of the Department of Defense. The MOU allows Commissioned Corps officers of the U.S. Public Health Service (USPHS) to participate in more health missions serving underprivileged areas throughout Central, South America and the Caribbean.
The MOU sets in place a framework for USPHS officers to participate in DoD Medical Readiness and Training Exercises (MEDRETEs) in Central America, South America and the Caribbean. The MEDRETEs are professional health care training for military medical teams that visit rural, underprivileged areas in the hemisphere. The program is one of the premier U.S. health diplomacy efforts in the region, giving American military health care personnel the opportunity to have a positive impact on thousands of people while providing invaluable real-world training for US troops.
Over the past two years, HHS personnel have participated in Operation Continuing Promise, a series of ship-based missions throughout Latin America and the Caribbean which aim to foster goodwill while demonstrating the U.S. commitment and support by delivering humanitarian assistance and medical care. Operation Continuing Promise is a partnership of the U.S. military, health professionals from the U.S. Public Health Service, and nongovernmental organizations such as Operation Smile and Project Hope which together provide humanitarian, dental, and medical assistance, among other services.
This MOU formalizes the existing collaborative relationship between the USPHS and SOUTHCOM, which has evolved from Operation Continuing Promise. “It will strengthen the effects of our joint good will missions by bringing the gift of health and changing the lives of countless individuals,” Adm. Garcia said.
"We are very excited about the impact our partnership with the U.S. Public Health Service is having on our training and humanitarian assistance efforts in the region. The talent and expertise that Commissioned Corps officers bring into these missions is immeasurable and will undoubtedly help us achieve new successes in our efforts to support interagency efforts to deliver the promise of a better tomorrow for hundreds of thousands of citizens across the Americas," said Adm. James Stavridis, commander of U.S. Southern Command.
The recent signing of this MOU, on Dec. 15, was preceded by the global health diplomacy briefing held by Adm. Garcia on Dec. 12 in Miami. That event discussed the importance of furthering global health diplomacy in the Americas through interagency partnerships.
Adm. Garcia praised the accomplishments of joint global health initiatives, such as Operation Continuing Promise. “By increasing quality and access to health care, we are strengthening our international relationships,” he said. In fiscal year 2008, the military and volunteer health professionals of Operation Continuing Promise brought care and humanitarian assistance to the U.S. the people of El Salvador, Guatemala, Peru, Nicaragua, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, and Haiti. For more information on U.S. Government health diplomacy efforts in Central and South America and the Caribbean, please visit www.globalhealth.gov and http://www.usphs.gov/Articles/default.aspx .
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Last revised: May 7, 2011