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For Immediate Release OPHS Communications Office

December 29, 2008 202-205-0143 (O)

Memorandum of Understanding Solidifies Global Health Diplomacy

Efforts between the U.S. Public Health Service and SOUTHCOM

MIAMI –Assistant Secretary for Health Joxel Garcia, M.D., M.B.A., a four-star admiral
in the U.S. Public Health Service, has announced a Memorandum of Understanding
(MOU) between the Public Health Service and the U.S. Southern Command
(SOUTHCOM) of the Department of Defense. The MOU allows Commissioned Corps
officers of the U.S. Public Health Service (USPHS) to participate in more health missions
serving underprivileged areas throughout Central, South America and the Caribbean.

The MOU sets in place a framework for USPHS officers to participate in DoD Medical
Readiness and Training Exercises (MEDRETEs) in Central America, South America and
the Caribbean. The MEDRETEs are professional health care training for military
medical teams that visit rural, underprivileged areas in the hemisphere. The program is
one of the premier U.S. health diplomacy efforts in the region, giving American military
health care personnel the opportunity to have a positive impact on thousands of people
while providing invaluable real-world training for US troops.

Over the past two years, HHS personnel have participated in Operation Continuing
Promise, a series of ship-based missions throughout Latin America and the Caribbean
which aim to foster goodwill while demonstrating the U.S. commitment and support by
delivering humanitarian assistance and medical care. Operation Continuing Promise is a
partnership of the U.S. military, health professionals from the U.S. Public Health Service,
and nongovernmental organizations such as Operation Smile and Project Hope which
together provide humanitarian, dental, and medical assistance, among other services.

This MOU formalizes the existing collaborative relationship between the USPHS and
SOUTHCOM, which has evolved from Operation Continuing Promise. “It will
strengthen the effects of our joint good will missions by bringing the gift of health and
changing the lives of countless individuals,” Adm. Garcia said.

"We are very excited about the impact our partnership with the U.S. Public Health
Service is having on our training and humanitarian assistance efforts in the region. The
talent and expertise that Commissioned Corps officers bring into these missions is
immeasurable and will undoubtedly help us achieve new successes in our efforts to
support interagency efforts to deliver the promise of a better tomorrow for hundreds of
thousands of citizens across the Americas," said Adm. James Stavridis, commander of
U.S. Southern Command.

The recent signing of this MOU, on Dec. 15, was preceded by the global health
diplomacy briefing held by Adm. Garcia on Dec. 12 in Miami. That event discussed the
importance of furthering global health diplomacy in the Americas through interagency
Adm. Garcia praised the accomplishments of joint global health initiatives, such as
Operation Continuing Promise. “By increasing quality and access to health care, we are
strengthening our international relationships,” he said. In fiscal year 2008, the military
and volunteer health professionals of Operation Continuing Promise brought care and
humanitarian assistance to the U.S. the people of El Salvador, Guatemala, Peru,
Nicaragua, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, and Haiti.

For more information on U.S. Government health diplomacy efforts in Central, South
America and the Caribbean, please visit and .