VICENZA, Italy — U.S. Army Southern European Task Force, Africa (SETAF-AF) surgeon directorate hosted their annual Medical Readiness Exercise Concept Development Event Sept. 18 – 22, 2023, in collaboration with several African partner nations, NATO allies and U.S. Army medical entities.
Michelle Dressner, public health advisor at U.S. Africa Command, briefs conference attendees on "Women, Peace and Security and the Impact of Outbreaks on Gender Equality" during the U.S. Army Southern European Task Force, Africa (SETAF-AF) hosted Medical Readiness Exercise Concept Development Event, held in Vicenza, Italy during the week of Sept. 18-21, 2023. (U.S. Army video by Chris House)
The CDE was held in Vicenza and brought together military medical professionals, planners and experts from SETAF-AF, U.S. Africa Command, U.S. Medical Command and others, alongside medical providers from Burundi, Chad, Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire, Kenya, Senegal, South Africa, France, Germany and the United Kingdom. The primary objective of the event was to work collectively to refine the fiscal year 2024 MEDREX execution strategy and discuss the framework for fiscal years 2025 to 2027.
MEDREX is a program designed and overseen by the SETAF-AF that allows medical personnel from the U.S. military and partner nation militaries to exchange medical procedures and strengthen treatment capabilities.
U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Todd R. Wasmund, SETAF-AF commanding general, welcomed participants and emphasized the importance of such collaborative events.
"The MEDREX program is a vitally important component of our global health engagement strategy,” Wasmund said. “The work you are doing here reflects your commitment to build strong partnerships and enhance medical capabilities that benefit the force and people in your communities."
One of the highlights of the CDE occurred when participants from the various nations discussed the positive impacts and exchange of medical practices during FY23’s MEDREX events.
Discussions touched on addressing challenges within each country’s healthcare systems, lessons learned during the MEDREX prevously held in their country and strategies for future global health engagement. This knowledge-sharing served to create a cohesive approach to the planning and tailoring of the FY24 MEDREX plan.
“Medicine is universal, so regardless of where you come from or what language you speak medicine unites us all,” said Commander Doctor James Aggrey-Orleans, Ghana Armed Forces. Aggrey-Orleans is the MEDREX program director for Ghana and is in his fifth year serving in this capacity.
“The MEDREX program is important to Ghana because it allows our medical staff to work with our partners from the U.S. where we share and learn from each other,” he added.
During the CDE, African partners divided into small groups with their U.S. state partners and engaged in tabletop discussions to refine plans for next year’s MEDREX season. The State Partnership Program is a U.S. Department of Defense joint security cooperation program which began in 1993. Administered by the National Guard Bureau, the program links a state’s National Guard with the armed forces of a partner country in order to build long-lasting, mutually beneficial relationships. Through SPP, the National Guard conducts military-to-military engagements in support of defense security goals but also leverages whole-of-society relationships and capabilities to facilitate broader interagency and corollary engagements spanning military, government, economic and social spheres.
The SETAF-AF CDE collaboration resulted in seven MEDREX events scheduled to execute in FY24 in Angola, Burundi, Chad, Ghana, Senegal, Rwanda and South Africa. The event concluded with a closing ceremony and served as a testament to the growing cooperation between participants in addressing healthcare challenges on the African continent.