Posted on: October 8, 2010 Posted by: Diane Swarts Comments: 0

The USA Army is training its forces to manage risks of exposure and response to African tropical diseases, which also impact foreign workers and aid workers.

The USA Africa Command operational area had revived and updated a Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences and Walter Reed Army Institute of Research course, on Tropical Medicine, in Vicenza, Italy.

The course was first taught in 1941, and discontinued in 1991, after 50 years. It was resurrected in 2010 in response to operational needs of the USA Africom and Special Operations Command.

The former six week course is now a week course, tailored to non-physician health care providers. The course is required for medical professionals deploying to provide health care in Africa.

Capt Gabrielle Caldara, environmental science officer with USA Army Africa’s Command Surgeon’s Office, Sgt Roddy Rieger, CSO NCOIC, and Staff Sgt Darren Jones, a medical NCO with USA RAF Headquarters Support Company, were the first USA Army Africa personnel to attend the redesigned course in September 2010, in the USA, reports a US Army circular.

The course focuses on ability to recognise, diagnosis and treat a range of tropical diseases and ailments, including laboratory practice on leishmaniasis and malaria. The soldiers are learning new ways to prevent exposure, recognise symptoms and respond to infection.

A malaria Rapid Diagnostic Test is one tool students are taught to use in the field, without the need for transport or other medical facilities. The test uses only a pinprick of blood, similar to fast and cheap HIV infection card type tests.

Caldara said preventative measures and education remained key factors in disease prevention for people visiting or working in tropical Africa.

The course teaches precautions like uniform treatment, use of DEET or insect repellent, adherence to relevant medication, and use of bed nets.”

PHOTO; USA Army staff in training to prevent and manage exposure and response to tropical diseases.

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