Expert exchange allows Experience, Expertise, and Culture
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia –A Subject Matter Expert Exchange, or SMEE, held July 9-13 brought a team of six public health, behavioral health and dental experts from Tripler Army Medical Center, U.S. Army Health Clinic-Schofield Barracks and 18th Medical Command (Deployment Support) together with their respective counterparts at the Malaysian Armed Forces Health Services, or MAF HS, here.
The purpose of the exchange was to increase operational interoperability between MAFHS and U.S Army Health Service Support (HSS) with regards to services while enhancing military relationships and increasing partner capacity to ensure security and stability in the region.
(left-right) Lt. Col. Wendi Waits, chief, Behavioral Health Services, U.S. Army Health Clinic-Schofield Barracks; Lt. Col. William Greenwood, assistant director, Advanced Education in General Dentistry 2-year Program, U.S. Dental Activity-Hawaii; Capt Megan Lichwardt, comprehensive dental resident, DENTAC-Hawaii; 1st Lt. Matthew Tullia, deputy chief, Health Physics, Tripler Army Medical Center; and Master Sgt. Debra Major noncommisioned officer-in-charge, Theater Patient Movement Center, 18th Medical Command (Deployment Support), participate in a Subject Matter Expert Exchange with the Malaysian Armed Forces Health Services, July 9-13 in Malaysia. The SMEE enhanced military relationships and increased partner capacity to assure security and stability in the Pacific region. (Photo courtesy US Army))
“Our team members devoted a great deal of time to sharing their challenges during deployment with our Malaysian counterparts who will soon be deploying to Bamiyan Province, Afghanistan,” said Lt. Gen. Dato’ (Dr) Razak, MAF HS Surgeon General.
“We also discussed Malaysia’s history and ongoing challenge with a life threatening form of Malaria, and the fact that significant headway in a comprehensive control strategy of diagnosis, treatment, protection and surveillance was being made,” said Dr. (Brig. Gen.) Dato' Ello, Senior Defense Public Health, MAF HS.
MAF HS Public Health experts had much to learn from Lt, Col. Dennis Palalay, chief, Force Health Protection, 18th MEDCOM (DS).
Lt. Col. Dennis Palalay, chief, Force Health Protection, 18th Medical Command (Deployment Support), gives opening remarks at the Subject Matter Expert Exchange, or SMEE, held July 9-13 in Malaysia. A team of six public health, behavioral health and dental experts from Tripler Army Medical Center, U.S. Army Health Clinic-Schofield Barracks and 18th MEDCOM (DS) met to foster health service relationships, enhance military relationships and foster security and stability in the Pacific region. (Photo by Master Sgt. Deborah Major, 18th Medical Command (Deployment Support))
“The Department of Defense Occupational and Environmental Health Site Assessments (OEHSAs) on deployment assists with the characterization of various health hazards on base camps and areas occupied by coalition forces for acute and chronic health risks.” Palalay said. “OEHSAs provide vital information to commanders on the health of the force their areas of operation and seek to minimize the occurrence of disease injuries.”
The Malaysian Contingent dental health model of a 10-week, seven person dental therapy program in Bamiyan impressed the U.S. Dental team greatly.
“The Malaysian deployments to Afghanistan have been exemplary,” said Lt. Col. William Greenwood, Advanced Education in General Dentistry 2-year Program - Assistant Director, U.S. Dental Activity-Hawaii. “This program is something that the Ministry of Public Health should seriously consider instituting country-wide as part of their vision to increase access to overall health care.”
MAFHS and the U.S Army’s in-theater dental health missions vary considerably. While MAFHS is primarily concerned with providing dental care and training the local Afghan population, the U.S Army is mostly interested in maintaining its own troops’ dental readiness and some detainee care that has yet to be turned over to the Afghan military.
“The U.S. Army's Dental team provided the MAF HS Dental team a good overview of the MEDPROS, Corporate Dental Application (CDA), U.S. Dental Classification System, in theater data collection, along with discussing the wide array of dental needs and equipment for a large deployed force,” Greenwood said.
The MAF HS and U.S. Army Dental Service use many of the same techniques, products, high technical equipment, technical knowledge sites, language, and similar western training programs. Interoperability would not be hard to accomplish beyond the different computer program software.
While the behavioral health services of MAFHS and the United States are as different operationally astheir dental health services, the end-state mission is the same. Lt. Col. Wendi Waits, chief, Behavioral Health Services, USAHC-SB, provided a detailed description of the spectrum of combat-related psychological illness as well as a review of the best practices used to evaluate and manage combat stress and post-traumatic stress disorder.
While current screenings have helped identify behavioral problems much sooner than they ever have, many challenges lie ahead as experts seek to find a balance between asking the right questions and the methods of asking them, Waits said.
At week’s end, agreements were reached for collaborative efforts to continue. The week-long event succeeded at reinforcing strong relationships for future partnerships.