AUGUST 31, 2016, YOKOSUKA, Japan (NNS) – Two of U.S. Naval Hospital Yokosuka’s leading care providers, Pharmacy Department Head, Lt. Cmdr. Linh Quach and Ophthalmology Division Officer, Lt. Loretta Stein, attended the 2016 Asia Pacific Military Health Exchange, held Aug. 1-5 in Kuantan, the state capital of Pahang, Malaysia.
With the theme of “Global Health Interoperability,” APMHE 16 was co-hosted by the U.S. and offered various break-out and workshop sessions for medical experts in areas such as dentistry, nursing, medical administration and planning, physicians, public health and veterinary medicine professionals, and medical non-commissioned officers.
In all, representatives of 27 countries were in attendance.
“This was the second year for APMHE,” said Quach, who served as the United States co-lead for the Recent Advances and Emerging Issues plenary session and the Medical Corps break-out session. “More countries are realizing the benefits of sending their military medical professionals to present and to attend the exchange. Next year the event will be even bigger and the topics will be very relevant to the current issues we all share. The impact I think it will leave on the medical community is that there are no borders when it comes to diseases and natural disasters.”
Some areas of focus were Recent Advances in Military Medicine, the Global Health Security Agenda, Public Health and Veterinary Issues, Humanitarian Assistance/Disaster Response and nations of the Indo-Asia-Pacific region being major troop contributors to United Nations Peacekeeping Operations (PKO) by means of medical support.
Stein facilitated a presentation titled “The Quality of Informed Consent in Global Health Practice: A Case Study of Cataract Surgery aboard the USNH Mercy (T 19) during Pacific Partnership 2015.”
“It was an honor for me to be able to present my topic alongside experts in the field,” said Stein. “I think my talk was well received with a few questions for discussion that followed. I felt that the atmosphere was warm, with a strong spirit of collegiality and excitement to build partnerships, friendships and learn from each other.”
Senior leadership representing U.S. Navy Medicine were Navy Surgeon General and Chief, Bureau of Medicine and Surgery, Vice Adm. C. Forrest Faison; Director, Defense Health Agency and opening ceremony co-host, Vice Adm. Raquel Bono and U.S. Pacific Command Surgeon, Rear Adm. Brian S. Pecha.
“This was a very exciting opportunity to meet the people responsible for organizing and carrying out responses to global health crises in the region, and learn from each other so that we can make each new mission more effective, efficient and successful,” said Stein. “It’s an opportunity to plan and prepare now so that we are trained and ready for when we are needed.”
The connection between care providers from each of the respective countries was felt by both Quach and Stein.
“I learned that we share a common mission to protect the people we serve, our country and our neighbors,” said Stein. “We all want to be ready to assist when we are called and be able to work together as one cohesive team.”
An additional treat for those in attendance was the opportunity to conduct a tour of hospital ship USNS Mercy (T-AH 19). The visit happened to be Quach’s first.
“It was a very good experience and I highly recommend all military medical personnel, no matter what branch of service or country, to tour the ship and take in the capabilities the Mercy has,” said Quach. “Obviously if presented the opportunity to deploy, I wouldn’t turn that down for much of anything.”
Singapore will host APMHE 17 in May 2017, and will feature the theme “Future Challenges and Collaboration in Military Health.” As co-hosts of this year’s conference, the U.S. and Malaysia conducted an official “passing of the flag” to Chief of Singapore Armed Forces Medical Corps, Rear Adm. Tang Kong Choong, signifying the continuation of the event.
“I believe there is no limit to what can be achieved with next year’s event coming up,” said Quach. “It is absolutely the chance of a lifetime to meet with medical professionals from various corners of the earth, learning from one another and growing from one another.”