ADF health specialists and engineers were part of a multinational team delivering health, logistics, and water and sanitation hygiene training to rural communities in the northern Luzon region of the Philippines.
CAPTION: Australian Army nurse Lieutenant Chloe Apps and Philippines military nurse Second Lieutenant Ian B De La Cruiz conduct physical examinations for local children at Fort Magsaysay, Philippines. Story by Lieutenant Geoff Long. Photo by Leading Aircraftwoman Emma Schwenke.
The two-week initiative came out of the Association of South-East Asian Nations Defence Ministers’ Meeting-Plus (ADMM-Plus) experts’ working group on military medicine (EWGMM), currently co-chaired by Australia and Brunei Darussalam.
Deputy Surgeon General ADF and co-chair of the working group Brigadier Isaac Seidl said the project was the result of four years of planning by all 18 ADMM-Plus nations.
“It is the first time that the experts’ working group has conducted a practical cooperation activity rather than a tabletop or field exercise,” Brigadier Seidl said.
“The EWGMM work plan has focused on pandemics and health security, and the idea behind the Philippines initiative is that we want to understand how we can work together if ever we face more urgent and difficult times in the future.”
The Australian contingent included health personnel from 2 Health Brigade and Army School of Health, and training in first aid, veterinary and environmental health.
Engineers from 1 Combat Brigade provided training in the use of portable water purification and desalination systems, delivered by HMAS Canberra as part of Indo-Pacific Endeavour.
Commander Australian Contingent Lieutenant Colonel Paul Manuel said the ADF benefited from working alongside counterparts from the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the Royal Brunei Armed Forces and those from other ADMM- Plus nations.
“One of the key things that we’ve been able to do is build relationships with our counterparts from other nations and learn from each other,” Lieutenant Colonel Manuel said.
“We learned from COVID that health challenges transcend national borders, so it’s important to take these opportunities to plan and collaborate together.”