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SOUTHCOM, HHS partner on medical training

MIAMI, Jan. 5 (UPI) -- The U.S. Public Health Service and U.S. Southern Command have agreed to a medical readiness and training partnership for operations in Latin America.

Adm. James Stavridis, commander of SOUTHCOM, and Adm. Joxel Garcia, Health and Human Services Department assistant secretary for health, signed a joint training agreement.

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As part of the deal, SOUTHCOM and Public Health Service Commissioned Corps officers will participate in Defense Department Medical Readiness and Training Exercises, or MEDRETEs, serving underprivileged regions in Latin America.

The MEDRETEs are the part of SOUTHCOM's ongoing health diplomacy effort and also an initiative to give real-life training to military medical officers. The partnership between SOUTHCOM and the Health and Human Services Department strengthens the collaboration between the agencies.

"We are very excited about the impact our partnership with the U.S. Public Health Service is having on our training and humanitarian assistance efforts in the region," Stavridis said in a statement.

"The talent and expertise that Commissioned Corps officers bring into these missions is immeasurable and will undoubtedly help us achieve new successes in our efforts to support inter-agency efforts to deliver the promise of a better tomorrow for hundreds of thousands of citizens across the Americas."

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