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Medics share global health practices in virtual Balikatan
“The global pandemic may have limited some aspects of the Balikatan exercise but it will never dampen the spirit of friendship, partnership and shared aspirations of both Philippines and United States Armed Forces,” said Maj. Gen. Edgard Arevalo, exercise director of Balikatan 2021 and commander of the AFP Education Training and Doctrine Command.
Boy Santos/ File

Medics share global health practices in virtual Balikatan

Michael Punongbayan (The Philippine Star) - April 17, 2021 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Medical experts from the Philippine Air Force (PAF) and United States Pacific Air Forces (PACAF) concluded yesterday their three-day virtual Global Health Engagement under the 2021 Balikatan exercises.

The activity, which started on April 12, was held virtually for the first time amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The global pandemic may have limited some aspects of the Balikatan exercise but it will never dampen the spirit of friendship, partnership and shared aspirations of both Philippines and United States Armed Forces,” said Maj. Gen. Edgard Arevalo, exercise director of Balikatan 2021 and commander of the AFP Education Training and Doctrine Command.

PAF chief surgeon Col. Maria Socorro Posadas led discussions on aviation medicine, specifically the role of the Armed Forces of the Philippines in pandemic management, as well as on COVID-19 vaccination plan, aerospace medicine guidelines, aeromedical evacuation and mass casualty response during pandemic.

“Engagement such as this had been carried out regularly between the Office of the Chief Surgeon Air Force and PACAF to produce meaningful exchanges of medical knowledge and practices in the field of Aerospace Medicine,” Posadas said.

“In this Balikatan 2021 virtual teleconference, both parties were able to showcase their experience and expertise in their respective fields as well as to highlight the improvements and innovations they instituted to fulfill their mission through this pandemic,” she added.

PACAF Command Surgeon Col. Rudy Cachuela and international health specialist Lt. Col. Cherielynne Gabriel joined the virtual activity from Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam in Hawaii.

Gabriel said the main objective of the exchange is to provide an overview of the present pandemic situation from surveillance, on-scene response, testing and monitoring to patient treatment and modifications to patient movement.

“It aims to share best practices, enhance knowledge of participants and maintain relationships until we can practice medical interoperability in-person again when global health conditions improve,” she said.

The 36th Balikatan will conclude on April 23. “The longstanding exercise continues amidst the global pandemic to manifest our unequivocal commitment to maintain national and regional peace and security and preparedness to respond to health emergencies,” Arevalo said.

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