By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kaila Peters
U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa (NAVEUR-NAVAF) Force Medical held a two-day virtual training event, June 29-30, 2021, in support of Africa Malaria Task Force (AMTF) in Naples, Italy.
The task force has been characterized by multiple in-person engagements every year since inception, however due to COVID, AMTF has not been able to meet in-person for over a year. This virtual event was a chance to re-invigorate the program and get key leaders from African Partner Nations and the U.S. interagency back together.
“The AMTF virtual engagement was a great opportunity to bring together key stakeholders from African partner nations, U.S. AMTF Implementing Partners, and the U.S. interagency to share information and collaborate,” said Lt. Amy Welkie, NAVEUR-NAVAF health security cooperation officer.
The event featured speakers from U.S. African Partners including Ghana, Senegal, Nigeria, and Cote D'Ivoire, as well as the U.S. President's Malaria Initiative and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Capt. Peter Woodson, NAVAF force surgeon, in coordination with Médecin Général de Brigade Yao D. N'Dri Athanase from Cote D’Ivoire, AMTF President, provided opening remarks for the event and welcomed both those new to AMTF and those that have helped build the program over the last 10 years.
The task force brings together scientists and policy makers with demonstrated interest in malaria programs to share resources, strategies, and expertise that would ultimately act as a catalyst for change.
U.S. Naval Forces Africa manages this security cooperation program designed to enhance partner nation capacity to diagnose vector-borne illnesses, identify and take preventive measures against vectors, and to promote international networking and collaboration between senior defense officials.
Topics this year included “National Malaria Control in Senegal: The Role of the Army Forces Health Service” from Dr. Maj Mame Cheikh Seck, Professor of Parasitology from Cheikh Anta Diop University, “Status of Global Health Engagement Research Initiative grant in Ghana and Force Health Protection in the Ghana Armed Forces” from Surgeon Capt. Edward Owusu Nyarko, Officer in Charge of Public Health of the Military Hospital in Accra, Ghana, and “Building the Capacity of Partner Militaries Malaria Control Programs in Africa: The Role of the Africa Malaria Task Force” from Dr. Samuel K. Dadzie, Department of Parasitology, Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research. Several other important topics were addressed from leaders in both Africa and the U.S.
The AMTF Key Leader Engagement provided a platform to synchronize Ministry of Health and Ministry of Defense efforts to address malaria during the COVID-19 pandemic with AMTF Member Countries and across a broad spectrum of experts in the field.
At the conclusion of the two-day event, General Yao thanked the group for the wonderful session and noted the desire to continue collaborating in the future.
AMTF is a program that was developed in 2011, designed to strengthen and expand effective malaria programs and provide support for military personnel, their families, and their communities.
U.S. Sixth Fleet, headquartered in Naples, Italy, conducts the full spectrum of joint and naval operations, often in concert with allied, and interagency partners, in order to advance U.S. national interests and security and stability in Europe and Africa.