Third Army/U.S. Army Central tackles H1N1 during information exchange with Uzbekistan
January 26, 2010
Third Army's most recent theatre security cooperation event addressed an important issue in the global community, the H1N1 virus.
The exchange was organized after Lt. Gen. William G. Webster, Third Army Commanding General, met with the Uzbekistan Ministry of Defense in the fall of 2009. As a direct result of that meeting, an immediate need was determine for an exchange of information between the two countries on the H1N1 pandemic. Webster directed Third Army to organize the event and his Soldiers quickly took the task on.
Using lessons learned from its own experience with the virus, Third Army held the three day exchange with the Uzbekistan Ministry of Health and Ministry of Defense in early January.
"This exchange expanded a current relationship with the Uzbekistan Ministry of Defense (MoD) and established a new relationship with the Ministry of Health (MoH)," Maj. Bryan K. Cecrle, Third Army Uzbekistan Country Desk Officer said.
Lt. Col. Sheryl K. Kennedy, Third Army/U.S. Army Central Surgeon's Office Force Protection Officer, explained how Third Army took lessons learned from its experiences in Kuwait to shape future operations.
"Our intent of the exchange was to share information about the management of the H1N1 in the military populations, looking specifically at how Third Army dealt with the H1N1 pandemic in Kuwait," Kennedy said.
Third Army addressed the Novel Influenze A (H1N1) shortly after it was first recognized in April 2009 in Mexico, Kennedy said. H1N1 quickly spread throughout the world and Third Army's first reported case in Kuwait was in May of that year.
In early April 2009, Third Army organized a team of experts to develop response plans, establish isolation facilities, implement screening and testing procedures, institute active preventative medicine measures and educate commanders, servicemembers and civilians, Kennedy explained.
"We were very open about the experiences we faced in dealing with H1N1 in Kuwait," Kennedy said. "Our openness on this subject was very well received by the Uzbekistan personnel in attendance."
In addition to Third Army's presentations, Hakimov B.H., Department Chief in the Sanitary-Epidemiological Center of the Ministry of Defense of the Republic of Uzbekistan, briefed the group on the ongoing work Uzbekistan is doing to prevent influenza.
Hakimov showed how Uzbekistan conducts enhanced medical screening for personnel of military units, military institutions, as well as Families of Soldiers and civilians in order to detect and isolate anyone suspected of being ill.
Though Uzbekistan has no reported cases of H1N1, Hakmov described the plans that are in place for the emergency deployment of additional isolation facilities if they are necessary in order to prevent an outbreak.
At the end of event, participants conducted an after action review and plans were made for an upcoming medical conference in March. In addition to addressing H1N1, the exchange played an important role in fostering relationships and increasing interoperability between the Third Army and Uzbekistan.
"H1N1 is an area where all countries are effected - either directly or indirectly," Cecrle said. "If our sharing information helps prevent the spread or introduction of H1N1 in either country, then this type of exchange is well worth the effort."