HONOLULU - The Fundamentals of Global Health Engagement (FOGHE) course began in 2010, when a dedicated team of active duty and retired military subject matter experts started a medical stability operations course to prepare military medical professionals to go on missions in Afghanistan and Iraq. As needs of the military forces changed over the next several years, the course was reshaped to focus on global health engagements (GHE) through a global lens, culminating in its current form as the FOGHE.

Global health subject matter experts from Regional Health Command-Pacific (RHC-P) have been active participants in coordinating and teaching during the FOGHE course, driving the success of global health engagements in the Pacific region over the past few years.

"The success of RHC-P's GHE efforts is due in part to the preparation of military and civilian health personnel who deploy on these missions. That preparation begins with this FOGHE course," said Lt. Col. Derek Licina, chief, Global Health Engagements, RHC-P.

The updated three day course, provided by the Center for Global Health Engagements at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USUHS), emphasizes GHE guidance while articulating the mission needs of military health system and public health service personnel. The course provides perspective on the elements of designing, planning, executing, monitoring and evaluating health engagements in a global atmosphere. It also enhances the understanding of the full array of issues surrounding and shaping health engagements to include national military strategy objectives.

"The continued development and interest in global health has given military health professionals an increased awareness of the cultural and communication challenges that may be present in a medical setting in another country," states Scott Zuerlein, deputy director, Training and Professional Development Division, Center for Global Health Engagements, USUHS. "That increased cultural and community awareness allows us to identify and build skill sets, bringing a variety of different practice styles, standards and methodologies during the development of how to conduct an effective health engagement."

When Sayed Shinwari, assistant professor, Center for Global Health Engagement, USUHS, first encountered global health engagements, he was a local health provider in Afghanistan. He helped build relationships between the local community and the military medical providers in his part of the country.

"At first, military medicine was not considered an option for the local civilian population. People, the locals, were suffering, and dying, of basic preventable diseases," explains Shinwari. "In my experience, local medical providers did not always have the medical expertise to assist their civilian population, so they called on military medical providers in the area to assist with patient care."

In one instance, Shinwari, alongside two military providers and four local medical providers, worked together to perform an operation on a local patient. The experience allowed the team to share their knowledge and experiences on medical practices, perspectives and expectations and to learn about how culture affects medicine. This experience built a bridge, one with access from both sides, reinforcing that health engagements are about more than an individual patient, they are also about the relationship between two or more nations.

During the three day FOGHE course, participants build an awareness of the complex set of variables that shape the development of GHE programs and the key principles to plan and conduct a GHE activity. FOGHE accomplishes its mission by presenting the knowledge and skills critical to developing and conducting effective GHE programs and activities through seminars, course readings, small group activities and discussions designed to reinforce and enhance the academic instruction. The diverse level of expertise of the instructors offers a greater understanding of the strategic, operational, and civil-military considerations, to include a framework for establishing the context of a health engagement.

Course content includes a wide range of topics including GHE guidance and strategic rationale, principles and practices of GHE, GHE stakeholders and coordination, strategic planning for GHEs, health context, culture, and communication, health needs assessments, functional planning for GHE, monitoring and evaluation, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, one health and veterinary stability operations, strategic and health risk communication as well as ethical considerations in GHE.

"This Fundamentals of Global Health Engagements course provided a wealth of information. As a regionally aligned Army Medicine asset in support of U.S. Army Pacific Command, RHC-P is at the forefront of the global health effort," states Command Sgt. Maj. Richard Watson, senior enlisted advisor, RHC-P. "Every health engagement RHC-P commits resources to reinforce our regional health partnerships and ensures our nation's military force is ready to support any mission."