The Military Sector’s Role in Global Health- Historical Context and Future Direction

Derek Licina

The military sector’s role in global health has gained visibility in recent years following its disaster responses to the South Asian Tsunami of 2004 and the earthquake that hit Haiti in 2010, in addition to humanitarian assistance activities conducted throughout the world. What is less clear is the overall contribution of the military sector to global health outcomes through direct and indirect investments. These investments range from medical research and development to peacekeeping operations while providing normative, technical assistance, and coordinating roles. Focusing efforts where required, as identified in international agreements such as the Geneva Conventions, and expanding multilateral organizations (e.g., the International Congresses of Military Medicine and Global Uniformed Services Task Force) may improve near term efficiencies. A collective international military global health financing mechanism to support these efforts is also necessary. Through further enhancement of existing structures, the military sector’s current role can become more efficient and effective in supporting the global good. The health and security of individuals and states throughout the world deserve nothing less.