The Department of Defense at the Forefront of a Global Health Emergency Response: Lessons Learned from the Ebola Outbreak

Health Secur. Sep-Oct 2016;14(5):366-74. doi: 10.1089/hs.2016.0022.


Tasked with analyzing the effectiveness of the Department of Defense's (DoD's) global health engagements, the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USU) used the Measures Of Effectiveness in Defense Engagement and Learning (MODEL) study to conduct a qualitative analysis of the DoD's response efforts to the Ebola pandemic in West Africa. The research aims to summarize the findings of studies that monitor and evaluate the DoD's response to the Ebola pandemic or compare the effectiveness of different DoD response activities; it further aims to identify common themes around positive and negative lessons learned and recommendations that can be applied to future DoD humanitarian assistance and disaster response efforts. The search included documents and observations from PubMed, Disaster Lit: Resource Guide for Disaster Medicine and Public Health, the Joint Lessons Learned Information System, the DoD and US Africa Command websites, and Google Scholar. The records selected from the search were analyzed to provide insights on the DoD's humanitarian assistance and disaster response engagements that could be employed to inform future operations and policy. Furthermore, the research identifies strengths and gaps in military capabilities to respond to disasters, which can be used to inform future training and education courses. Overall, the findings demonstrate the importance of monitoring, evaluating, and assessing disaster response activities and provide new evidence to support the implementation of activities, in accordance with the Global Health Security Agenda, to strengthen all-threat prevention, detection, and response capabilities worldwide.

MeSH terms

  • Africa, Western / epidemiology
  • Communicable Disease Control / methods
  • Communicable Disease Control / organization & administration*
  • Disaster Planning / organization & administration
  • Disease Outbreaks / prevention & control*
  • Global Health
  • Health Policy*
  • Hemorrhagic Fever, Ebola / epidemiology
  • Hemorrhagic Fever, Ebola / prevention & control*
  • Humans
  • International Cooperation
  • Public Health Surveillance* / methods
  • Qualitative Research
  • Quality Assurance, Health Care
  • Relief Work / organization & administration*
  • United States
  • United States Department of Defense / organization & administration*