African Partner Outbreak Response Alliance Overview
By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Robert J. Baldock, U.S. Air Forces in Europe - Air Forces Africa
/ Published November 20, 2018
MONROVIA, Liberia -- United States Air Forces Africa (AFAFRICA), along with other U.S. government agencies and 21 African partner nations, participated in an African Partner Outbreak Response Alliance (APORA) conference in Monrovia, Liberia, November 12 through 15. This year marked the 6th iteration of the AFAFRICA sponsored event, demonstrating the Air Force’s commitment to its African partner nations.
“It’s a poignant reminder being here in Liberia, where in 2014 there were about 10,000 cases of Ebola,” said Colonel Krystal Murphy, Deputy Command Surgeon for U.S. Africa Command. “Disease is a global threat. It doesn't respect borders, it doesn't respect religion or race, it's something that all militaries and all nations need to cooperate to combat and to safeguard.”
This year’s event allowed for various government agencies to hold small group sessions to allow partner nations to be more hands on with the exercises.
“We are lucky to have representatives here from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention facilitating some tabletop discussions with smaller groups,” said Lieutenant Colonel Jessica Cowden, Defense Institute for Medical Operations Chief of Infectious Disease Programs. “Being in a smaller setting allows for these nations to open up a dialogue and lines of communication with our allies that might not be possible if we were strictly in a larger forum.”
“Communication is what I have learned,” said Lieutenant Colonel Laurette Mangouka, executive secretary of APORA and member of the Armed Forces of Gabon. “We all have strategic plans within APORA countries, but from my point of view the gap is a lack of communication and that is why we are trying to improve it. That is what I will take back home.”
The conference gave health professionals throughout Africa an opportunity to exchange ideas and best practices for dealing with the dangers of infectious diseases.
“It brings me great joy and satisfaction to be developing the relationships at a personal level but to also solidify relationships with our partner nations, particularly amongst fellow health professionals,” said Chris Daniel, senior advisor for Global Health Engagement. “We can come together and do our part to support the readiness of our forces.”
“This exercise is important because it gives us the tools to fight against diseases,” said Mangouka. “It's important to have those tools to be prepared in case of another outbreak.”