Cooperative health engagement held in Puerto Princesa for Balikatan

27 Apr 2015 | Courtesy Story The Official United States Marine Corps Public Website

Many were gathered at Puerto Princesa City Hall to attend a medical and veterinary symposium April 13-14 in Puerto Princesa, on the island of Palawan, Philippines, as part of cooperative health engagements held during Exercise Balikatan 2015. 

Approximately 86 personnel from the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the U.S. military, Australian Defence Force, as well as local health and veterinary officials were in attendance. 

The opening ceremony included remarks from the city’s mayor, the honorable Lucilo R. Bayron; Philippine Brig. Gen. Joselito P. Avanceña, AFP surgeon general; U.S. Navy Capt. James G Meyer, the commander of the Combined-Joint Civil- Military Operations Task Force; and U.S. Navy Capt. David C. Krulak, U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Pacific, force surgeon. Lastly, the guest of honor was the governor, the honorable Jose C. Alvarez. 

The focus of the two-day symposium was emerging and infectious disease threats throughout the Philippine region and emerging zoonotic diseases and veterinary disaster management. 

On the first day of the event, leading experts from local health offices, the U.S. and Australia presented numerous lectures on topics such as dengue and chikungunya, human immuno-deficiency virus, medical resistant tuberculous, treatment of diarrheal diseases, hypertension, leptospirosis, ebola, and malaria etiology.

The veterinary symposium was held the second day, topics included rabies prevention, identification, and testing; leptospirosis, transmissible venereal tumors, hookworm meat inspection, parasitism, veterinary disaster management, and veterinary bio-preparedness. 

“The information passed at both symposiums will enhance already well established programs in the Philippines and will further expand our relationship with the local populace,” said U.S. Navy Lt. Cdr. Tai Do, a malaria subject matter expert from the U.S. naval hospital in Okinawa, Japan. “The importance of this event for all partnering nations is crucial to the control of emerging diseases in the area of operations. Overall, it was truly a successful event, and I look forward to future collaboration between all parties.”

At the conclusion of the symposium, U.S. Army Capt. Andrew J. Armstrong presented certificates of participation and closing remarks.

Exercise Balikatan, in its 31st iteration, is an annual bilateral exercise involving AFP, U.S. and ADF service members. The HCA portion of the exercise helps improve military-to-military relationships while assisting the local community.