Djibouti: CJTF-HOA Medical symposium helps Djiboutians overcome obstacles

Djibouti (HAN) April 1, 2014 – Health experts from various Djiboutian organizations, the U.S. military and coalition partners gathered at the University of Djibouti March 9, 2014, for the Djibouti Medical Symposium to discuss best practices and ways to overcome health challenges.

U.S. Navy Capt. Rom Stevens and U.S. Army Capt. Thomas Webster represented Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA). Members of Camp Lemonnier, the Djibouti Armed Forces, the German Army, the World Health Organization–Djibouti, and several others joined them.

“I think the major significance was we got a chance to talk to our Djiboutian counterparts and learn from them,” said Stevens, CJTF-HOA force surgeon. “We learned what their medical issues are in Djibouti, specifically updates on the malaria outbreak, but also to get an idea of what medical practices are like.”

Malaria has been a big concern for Djiboutian citizens, and the group discussed ways to combat malaria, such as bed nets. However, Stevens said the key to fighting the battle is “vector surveillance,” which means finding the areas of the city where the illness and breeding is the most prevalent. Those are the primary target areas for anti-mosquito efforts.

The symposium also addressed health issues beyond malaria. Stevens talked to the group about triage and the importance of categorizing patients after a mass casualty event, which means treating those with most severe injuries first.

Webster, 443rd Civil Affairs Battalion’s functional specialty team, talked about the role of civil affairs medical engagements.

According to Webster, it’s important for CJTF-HOA to stay involved. “(It) keeps us engaged with the local medical population and medical intelligence,” he said.

Stevens said he hoped the symposium will enable medical improvements in the near future and looks forward to more events to stay in tune with the medical situation in Djibouti.

CJTF-HOA – U.S. Navy Capt. Rom Stevens answers a question following his presentation at the 2014 Djibouti Medical Symposium at the University of Djibouti.

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