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NEPMU-6 conducts Global Health Engagement in the Solomon Islands

13 September 2018

From MC1 Nathan Laird, U.S. Pacific Fleet

The recent mission focused on developing the ability to respond to vector-borne diseases.

PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii - Navy Environmental and Preventive Medicine Unit (NEPMU) 6, in conjunction with the Navy Entomology Center of Excellence and Australian Defence Force entomologists, completed a Global Health Engagement with the Solomon Islands Ministry of Health to enhance their mosquito control capabilities Aug. 17-31.

The mission’s goals were to develop the Solomon Islands Ministry of Health and medical services capability to respond to vector-borne diseases and to integrate with the entomology team from the Australian Defence Force.

Lt. James Harwood, officer in charge of the mission, said his team trained the local health services personnel to properly use their pesticide dispersal equipment, how to interpret pesticide labels correctly to be able to apply pesticide in a way that's effective and safe, and how to translate mosquito surveillance data into explainable risk.

“After the training, we identified eight individuals out of the 20 that would be proficient trainers themselves,” Harwood said. “Our team will return for a facilitation review where we will help coach the new trainers as they teach other Ministry of Health personnel.”

Harwood added how important it was to work with the entomologists from the Australian Defence Force.

“There's not a lot of other militaries that have entomology as active duty,” he said. “We really developed our ability for both of us to work in an austere tropical environment and share best practices.”

This was the third mission to the Solomon Islands for NEPMU-6. The team is working with the Solomon Islands National University to build this training into a postgraduate course.

NEPMU-6’s mission is to maximize the mission readiness of operational forces in the Pacific Theater by providing specialized public health services that enhance force health protection.

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