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  • By Master Sgt. Andy Kin
  • Defense Media Activity - Europe Africa

The U.S. Africa Command hosted the 7th Semi-Annual African Partner Outbreak Response Alliance conference May 20-23 in Kigali, Rwanda, to provide African partner nations regional training and exercise planning to prevent, detect and respond to emerging infectious diseases.

The AFRICOM-facilitated program promotes an exchange of best practices between 27 African nations and representatives from U.S. government agencies to increase communication, discuss ongoing challenges, identify gaps and needs and promote regional stability and security.

“Through interoperability, we will be able to combat infectious diseases,” said Hon. Peter H. Vrooman, U.S. ambassador to Rwanda.

APORA, established following the 2014 West African Ebola outbreak, is a three-day event with over 115 participants. Key U.S. participants include: U.S. Air Forces Africa, U.S. Naval Medical Research Unit 3, Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Center for Global Health Engagements, Office of the Secretary of Defense, Special Operations Command Africa and the U.S. Agency for International Development.

“We are fighting a nonhuman, very inhumane enemy,” said Col. Krystal Murphy, USAFRICOM deputy command surgeon. “It’s a global threat, but it can do even greater damage at the continental and regional levels.”

Training at this event bolstered relationships with current partners and mobilized new partners to strengthen pandemic prevention programs.

Participants organized themselves into smaller breakout groups, which allowed surrounding African partner nations’ representatives to exchange ideas and gain a better understanding of outbreak response between nations.

In addition, the event promoted interoperability between the French and English models of the Incident Command System, in such each country becomes familiar operating in both language platforms. Finally, the nations co-created an APORA manual dictating emergency response policies and procedures of each alliance member when operating under civilian authority.

“We have to come together to help each other by forming a strong and close-knit network,” said Lt. Col. Julius Nwobegahay, Cameroon Armed Forces APORA co-chair.

The next APORA conference is scheduled for November 2019.