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Indo-Asia-Pacific Partners Discuss Global Health Interoperability at Exchange Event

By Air Force Master Sgt. Todd Kabalan Defense Media Activity - Hawaii

KUANTAN, Malaysia, Aug. 2, 2016 — Nearly 500 senior military health officials from 27 countries have come together for the 2016 Asia Pacific Military Health Exchange to share experiences and strengthen partnerships during plenary and breakout sessions from Aug 1-5.

Now in its second year, the APMHE is a multilateral event focused on global health interoperability.

This year's exchange is co-hosted by the Malaysian armed forces health services and U.S. Pacific Command’s chief surgeon. Malaysia’s Chief of Defense, Gen. Tan Sri Dato’ Sri (Dr.) Zulkifeli bin Mohd Zin, officially opened the exchange during a ceremony that featured a Malaysian cultural and martial arts demonstration.

“It is not always that we’ve had the privilege to welcome so many distinguished people to our shores, and for that we are grateful to the United States Pacific Command for allowing us to co-host this important exchange,” he said.

U.S. Navy Vice Admiral Raquel C. Bono, director of the Defense Health Agency and co-host for the opening ceremony, said it is because of events like APMHE that the shared commitment to global health security is more evident.

“Cooperation across the region is more robust,” Bono said. “Joint initiatives to combat infectious disease outbreaks, support peace-keeping operations and provide disaster relief are becoming greater in number and are becoming more effective. Military-to-military partnerships have grown even stronger. Our Malaysian hosts are to be congratulated for this great turnout and the quality of the agenda.”

The military health forum will include special sessions for physicians, dentists, nurses, medical administrators and planners, public health and veterinary medicine professionals, medical non-commissioned officers as well as sessions specific to ground, air, and maritime forces.

"This exchange improves the responsiveness of all of our medical forces," said U.S. Navy Vice Adm. Forrest Faison, Navy surgeon general and chief of the Bureau of Medicine and Surgery.

"We come together with a shared commitment to global health and regional prosperity. It is a continuous endeavor to ensure our nations are ready to respond whenever and wherever needed,” Faison said. “We must be prepared to provide the best medical care possible in the event of natural disasters or other events, especially here in the Pacific."

This year’s APMHE will include an executive track for senior leaders and attendees will have the opportunity to tour the hospital ship USNS Mercy, which is in Kuantan as part of the Pacific Partnership 2016 mission.

Representatives from Australia, Bangladesh, Brunei, Burma, Cambodia, Canada, China, Chinese Taipei, Fiji, India, Indonesia, Japan, Laos, Malaysia, the Maldives, Mongolia, Nepal, New Zealand, the Philippines, South Korea, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Tonga, the United States and Vietnam are participating in this year’s exchange.

"This is a wonderful opportunity to meet with our partner nations in the region," said U.S. Navy Capt. David Krulak, a physician and command surgeon with Marine Corps Forces Pacific. "It allows us to build relationships that are invaluable during humanitarian and disaster response events. Working together in times of calm allows us to be better prepared when crisis strikes."