The recent signing of a memorandum of cooperation between Australia and the US will lead to the establishment of an Indo-Pacific Health Security Alliance (IPHSA), providing a forum to facilitate civil-military cooperation in health in the Indo-Pacific.
The memorandum was signed during a 10-day visit to Australia by a US health delegation led by United States Indo-Pacific Command Command Surgeon Rear Admiral Pamela Miller and Commanding General, 18th Medical Command (US), Major General Michael Place.
The visit was sponsored by Joint Health Command, Surgeon General Australian Defence Force and Commander Joint Health, Rear Admiral Sarah Sharkey.
Key highlights of the visit were command engagements with Australian Defence Force health units and Joint Health Command Headquarters.
The aim of the visit was to promote strategic engagement and understanding between Australian and US health services, foster discussion of regional challenges pertaining to healthcare and improve the shared understanding of the operating environment and geopolitical influences encompassing Northern Australia.
The aim of IPHSA is to create a sustainable framework for continuous engagement and consolidate existing efforts to strengthen multi-sectoral, whole-of-society outbreak preparedness and response capabilities.
IPHSA will provide a forum for stakeholders from the Indo-Pacific region to facilitate civil-military cooperation in health, build trust and identify gaps.
This is a strong demonstration of Australia’s and the United States’ shared commitment to work multilaterally to strengthen global health systems, which was announced at Australia-United State Ministerial Consultations (AUSMIN) last year.
This is consistent with Australia’s and the United States’ goal of advancing peace, security and prosperity to ensure an open, inclusive and resilient Indo-Pacific.
“The US health delegation’s visit was an important engagement opportunity in highlighting the strong Australia-US relationship and AUSMIN strategic objectives,” Rear Admiral Sharkey said.
“We valued the opportunity to provide an overview of our capabilities in respective locations and discuss strategic US and Australian engagement and specialist perspectives on future opportunities.
“We look forward to our continued partnership with the US and enhancing our relationships and mutual understanding.”
Keen to understand the Australian Defence Force health system and look for opportunities that may exist for building and fostering relationships and health engagement, the US delegation conducted a number of regional visits to Sydney, Darwin, Brisbane and Canberra.
The delegates attended the Anzac Day dawn service in Martin Place, Sydney, at the beginning of their visit, and concluded their time in Australia with the laying of wreaths at a Last Post Ceremony at the Australian War Memorial.