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NEWS | June 17, 2024

Strengthening Military-Civilian Relations and Partnerships on Global Health Security

U.S. Indo-Pacific Command Public Affairs

SYDNEY — The Australian Defence Force and U.S. Indo-Pacific Command co-hosted the Military Civilian Health Security Summit in Sydney, June 16-17, bringing together 23 Indo-Pacific partner nations, international organizations, NGOs and academics to facilitate improved coordination and collaboration between military and civilian groups to better prevent, detect and respond to health security threats.   

At MCHSS, there were 120 participants from the following countries: Australia, Cambodia, Canada, Fiji, Indonesia, India, Japan, Laos, Malaysia, Maldives, Mongolia, Nepal, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Singapore, Sir Lanka, Thailand, Tonga, Timor-Leste, United Kingdom, and the United States as well as the African Partner Outbreak Response Alliance. 

Established in 2018, the MCHSS symbolizes a unified commitment to address global health security challenges and provides an opportunity for participants to share valuable insights and enhance regional readiness through its multilateral, multisectoral approach. In its third iteration, this year’s event featured keynote speakers and break-out sessions on global health security at the national, regional and global levels, to include the roles of defense and humanitarian groups during armed conflict, preparedness planning and countering misinformation and disinformation, among others.   

Centered on increasingly complex and dynamic health security landscapes, discussions featured the exchange of best practices and the identification of shared challenges, while providing an opportunity for unified strategies that transcend the civil-military divide and international borders.  

While at MCHSS, Australian Rear Adm. Sonya Bennett, Australian Defence Force surgeon general and U.S. Navy Capt. Jeffrey Bitterman, command surgeon at U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, signed the Indo-Pacific health security alliance (IPhsa) Terms of Reference. IPhsa plays a pivotal role in strengthening health security through the diverse Indo-Pacific region by fostering an environment in which civilian-military security sectors can mitigate the impact of global health security threats and enhance national and regional resilience through integrated cooperation. The IPhsa Terms of Reference provide objectives that will foster collaboration on the development of global health security-related capabilities in the Indo-Pacific. 

By actively bolstering the health security capacity of civilian and military entities, the MCHSS aims to improve global stability through cultivating key partnerships, mitigating malign influences and enhancing readiness in order to advance peace, security, and prosperity in an open and resilient Indo-Pacific.