APORA VIII: Knowledge sharing is contagious

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Renae Pittman
  • USAFE-AFAFRICA Public Affairs

The eighth iteration of the African Partner Outbreak Response Alliance engagement, focused on ‘One World, One Health,’ took place here, Nov. 18 – 21, 2019.

Twenty-five African nations joined representatives from U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa, U.S. Africa Command, and the Center for Disease Control to exchange knowledge and best practices on how to improve response capabilities for preventing, detecting and responding to emerging infectious diseases.

“We are coming together to find a way to fight an enemy that doesn’t care about borders or who you are—it’s a global threat.” said U.S. Air Force Col. Timothy Dykens, chief of medical readiness for USAFE-AFAFRICA. “Anything we can do to stem the threat of infectious disease enhances national security.”

The alliance was initially established in 2014 following an Ebola outbreak in West Africa. Today, more than 120 military and civilian medical professionals gather together twice a year to collaborate on how to better combat the global threat of contagious diseases.

“Collaborating and communicating is the key to get the strength to be able to help each other and use each other’s facilities and knowledge to prevent outbreak, especially before a response force is needed,” said Armed Forces of Gabon Lt. Col. Laurette Mangouka, executive secretary for the APORA bureau.

This iteration of APORA included topics such as public health emergency management and operations, military assistance in health emergencies, regional preparedness for epidemic threats and how to combat counterfeit medicines.

Building partnership capacity is one of the primary goals of these engagements, along with international networking to understand various response options and capabilities both regionally and internationally.

“We are definitely working shoulder-to-shoulder with our counterparts across these 25 countries. These are the guys that see it every day and we are here to facilitate those conversations to help them be successful,” said Dykens.

Some of the accomplishments during this engagement include developing doctrine that standardizes the handling of infectious diseases, learning how to stand up and run an emergency operations center, and identifying necessary training areas at a tactical level to further each country’s capability.

The next semi-annual engagement is scheduled for early next year.