CHIANG MAI PROVINCE, Kingdom of Thailand – Medical leaders and military medical professionals representing many nations participated in a medical symposium Feb. 15 in Chiang Mai province, Kingdom of Thailand, during exercise Cobra Gold 2013.<br /> <br /> The daylong, multinational health symposium was an exchange of knowledge and experience to increase access to healthcare and veterinary services for citizens throughout Thailand, and to prepare a coordinated response to regional medical crises.<br /> <br /> “In my experience, when we have large outbreaks and we have large disasters, we have to protect the people,” said Dr. Pasakorn Akarasewi, Thai Ministry of Public Health. “Sometimes you will need logistical help to bring people transportation. Also for the military doctor, they may know a better system than (civilian doctors).”<br /> <br /> The symposium allowed civilians and military members to share medical best practices and lessons learned. It will also prepare the effective implementation of crisis plans in case of a natural disaster.<br /> <br /> “We have a lot of shared interest in being able to respond during a humanitarian assistance and disaster relief effort,” said U.S. Navy Rear Adm. Raquel C. Bono, command surgeon, U.S. Pacific Command. “And in being able to address those things that make a community more resilient, we can also make a recovery more rapid. By doing that planning and exercise ahead of time, including not only the military but civilian organizations that can help in that response, do we become more proficient and faster at being able to respond to these disasters.”<br /> <br /> The threat of natural disasters and infectious diseases can be assuaged by collaborating in our efforts to respond rapidly to humanitarian crises and disasters in the region.<br /> <br /> “I think in the world right now, we are more interconnected,” said Dr. Akarasewi. “We are working to protect the health of the people and the country. So, I see that this is a good effort to bring together public health and local health. <br /> <br /> “When something goes wrong like disaster, like major outbreaks, we have a chance to connect together,” he added.<br /> <br /> By working together, partner nations conduct training that is vital to maintaining readiness and interoperability.<br /> <br /> “Together we can always address the challenges of humanity,” said Bono. “We can compare and learn from each other and then be able to collectively take on some of the challenges that we all face. I think this symposium is a wonderful start to taking that step in sharing that information.”<br /> <br /> The medical symposium was collaboratively planned by the Thailand Office of Health, the Royal Thai Armed Forces, and the U.S. military to enhance regional relationships with partner nations, and to address and share potential solutions for significant health concerns in Southeast Asia.