SOUTHCOM’s Global Health Engagement

SOUTHCOM provides direct support to the training and readiness of partner nations' military and civilian health systems through Global Health Engagements across Latin America and the Caribbean. We help build capacity in military health service support; force health protection; disaster preparedness and response; health surveillance; medical research and development; and detection, prevention and response to disease threats.

A U.S. Navy Cmdr. Tony Silvetti, a gynecologist assigned to Naval Hospital Camp Lejeune, explains the process to safely resuscitate a chocking baby to a group of Colombian medical students in Cartagena Sept. 22, 2016.

CARTAGENA, Colombia (Sept. 22, 2016) – U.S. Navy Cmdr. Tony Silvetti, a gynecologist assigned to Naval Hospital Camp Lejeune, explains the process to safely resuscitate a chocking baby to a group of medical students as a part of subject matter expert exchange with medical staff at Naval Hospital Cartagena during Southern Partnership Station 2016.  (U.S. Army photo by Private First Class Liem Huynh/Released)


U.S. Southern Command’s Approach to Global Health Engagement

At U.S. Southern Command, we recognize that direct support to the training and readiness of our Partner Nations yields dividends in fostering robust multinational support to coalition operations and reduces the risks to our own force. SOUTHCOM’s Office of the Command Surgeon leads U.S. military efforts in Latin America and the Caribbean to enable and synchronize health engagement activities, utilizing the whole-of-government approach to enhance regional health preparedness and increase Partner Nations’ military and security forces’ medical capabilities. Through medical training and logistics support, sharing expertise and information, and advancing humanitarian and disaster relief capacity, our Global Health Engagement efforts focus on the following key areas:

  • Strengthening Partner Nation military health system
  • Building capacity to help prevent, detect, and respond to disease threat
  • Enhancing regional capabilities in medical disaster preparedness and response

The Bottom Line

The U.S. Southern Command is committed to advancing national interests both at home and abroad. Our ability to prevent, detect, and respond to disease outbreaks and other global health threats plays a critical role in defending our shared home of the Americas.

Global Health Engagement and National Security

Every year, infectious disease outbreaks continue to threaten health and security globally, emerging and spreading at unprecedented and continuously increasing rates.  Infectious disease outbreaks impact the livelihoods of individuals, cause major disruptions to travel and productivity, and pose serious risks to citizens around the world and our U.S. Armed Forces, both at home and forward deployed. These global health threats also impact economic growth, stability, and ultimately the development potential of nations – all of whose complex interplay influences the overall security of countries and regions in which the United States has significant interests. 

U.S. Government Commitment to Global Health Security

At the highest levels, the U.S. government has reaffirmed that global health is a critical priority in achieving a peaceful, prosperous, and secure society. Our National Security Strategy underscores the importance of global health security, recognizing that the spread of infectious diseases, and other global health threats, constitutes a growing risk that transcends geographical and political boundaries.  The Global Health Security Agenda further demonstrates the United States’ commitment, representing a growing partnership devoted to increasing countries’ capacities to prevent, detect, and respond to endemic and emerging infectious disease threats. 

In close collaboration with the U.S. interagency, the Department of Defense plays an important role in combating global health threats as a matter of national security by:

  • Building capacity in Partner Nation military health service support
  • Force health protection
  • Disaster preparedness and response
  • Health surveillance
  • Medical research and development

The Department of Defense recognizes that public health, force health protection, and full spectrum care are integral to maintaining the health and mission-capable status of Partner Nations’ forces – the same forces that uphold internal regional security, engage in international peacekeeping missions, and partner with us in the fight against transnational and transnational threat networks.