The importance of militaries from developing countries in global infectious disease surveillance
Jean-Paul Chretien, David L Blazes, Rodney L Coldren, Michael D Lewis, Jariyanart Gaywee, Khunakorn Kana, Narongrid Sirisopana, Victor Vallejos, Carmen C Mundaca, Silvia Montano, Gregory J Martin, Joel C Gaydos
Military forces from developing countries have become increasingly important as facilitators of their government’s foreign policy, taking part in peacekeeping operations, military exercises and humanitarian relief missions. Deployment of these forces presents both challenges and opportunities for infectious disease surveillance and control. Troop movements may cause or extend epidemics by introducing novel agents to susceptible populations. Conversely, military units with disease surveillance and response capabilities can extend those capabilities to civilian populations not served by civilian public health programmes, such as those in remote or post-disaster settings. In Peru and Thailand, military health organizations in partnership with the military of the United States use their laboratory, epidemiological, communications and logistical resources to support civilian ministry of health efforts. As their role in international affairs expands, surveillance capabilities of militaries from developing countries should be enhanced, perhaps through partnerships with militaries from high-income countries. Military-to-military and military-to-civilian partnerships, with the support of national and international civilian health organizations, could also greatly strengthen global infectious disease surveillance, particularly in remote and post-disaster areas where military forces are present.