U.S. Indo-Pacific Command (USINDOPACOM) and the University of Hawaii (UH) held a conference Aug. 6, 2019, on the island of Oahu, Hawaii, regarding U.S. government support of health and healthcare in Oceania.
The conference, held at the University of Hawaii campus and the USINDOPACOM headquarters, brought together more than 100 regional and healthcare professionals from the military, Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and other organizations to discuss issues ranging from infectious diseases and food security, to training and medical infrastructure.
“I think in this situation … the whole is greater than the sum of the parts,” said Rear Adm. Louis Tripoli, command surgeon, USINDOPACOM. “We have a lot of great efforts doing a lot of great things, but what I'm trying to do with our partnership at the University of Hawaii is to unite those efforts into one great strategic idea that will help us move forward with regard to improving health, healthcare, and healthcare support in the Pacific Islands and territories.”
The conference also encompassed the U.S.-Affiliated Pacific Island jurisdictions UH works with, as well as the other 22 Pacific Island countries and territories and addressed the unique challenges in these regions ranging from infrastructure, infectious diseases, and climate change.
On August 7-8, USINDOPACOM hosted the second part of the conference, called Strategic discussions on U.S. government support of Health and Healthcare in Oceania. The conference was a continuation that focused on specific government agency support discussions for the region.
USINDOPACOM Commander Adm. Phil Davidson spoke at a portion of the conference and took questions from the participants.
“There is an opportunity as we go forward to specifically address what are the concerns of the Pacific Island chain.” said Davidson.
He continued, “The potential here within the healthcare space is important. There is an opportunity here for us to help the Pacific Island nations to address their problems through the resources and capabilities we have in this room.”
Much of the conference focused on how to leverage the U.S. military’s robust capabilities in logistics, transport, security, and medical evacuation and treatment in providing health and healthcare assistance to these nations.
“We have to figure out how we can synergize those capabilities of the military that can help form a certain backbone of what goes on in the medical sector,” Tripoli said. “The people need to have something that is sustainable and self-sufficient.”
In conjunction with providing support, these efforts are designed to train and enable these territories to address their healthcare needs internally.
“We can’t do it alone, and that is why we are here: to work together,” said Tripoli. “It is important for all of us to do this. It is not only important; it is the right thing to do.”
USINDOPACOM protects and defends, in concert with other U.S. Government agencies, the territory of the United States, its people, and its interests. With allies and partners, USINDOPACOM is committed to enhancing stability in the Indo-Pacific region by promoting security cooperation, encouraging peaceful development, responding to contingencies, deterring aggression, and, when necessary, fighting to win. This approach is based on partnership, presence, and military readiness.