Committee of the Chiefs of Military Medical Services in NATO hosts 46th Annual Plenary

  • 21 Nov. 2016 - 23 Nov. 2016
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  • Last updated: 11 Jan. 2017 11:32

The Committee of Chiefs of Military Medical Services in NATO (COMEDS)* held its 46th plenary meeting at NATO Headquarters in Brussels on 21 to 23 November 2016 to discuss enhanced medical capabilities and interoperability. The plenary included the presentation of the Dominique-Jean Larrey Award to retired Belgian Surgeon General Maj Gen Roger van Hoof. The meeting was chaired by COMEDS Chairman MG Jean-Robert Bernier from Canada.

The Committee of Chiefs of Military Medical Services in NATO (COMEDS) met from 21-23 November 2016 to enhance medical capabilities and interoperability, provide consensus-based strategic direction and oversight of the work of its specialised sub-groups, as well as advice to the Military Committee. The two main objectives of this plenary were to keep the Nations aware of future trends and developments in military medicine while proactively determining efforts to ensure readiness in future medical support, in addition to establishing common research priorities for the Allied medical community to address common operational readiness interests.

The COMEDS addressed a wide range of topics among its many medical and operational standardisation efforts, with a particular focus on the necessary generation of medical capacity to support NATO's needs. The plenary provided a forum for the COMEDS to determine the best approach to remain informed and responsive to the implications of future developments while consolidating NATO medical voices and research interests into one consensus.

The Plenary meeting was followed by a day of meetings to refine NATO's approach to maintaining readiness for medical support to future Alliance operations. These meetings discussed the establishment of a medical futures agenda and a finalized COMEDS future readiness approach.

The 46th Annual Plenary included an award ceremony for Major General Roger Van Hoof who was awarded the Dominique-Jean Larrey Award, the highest honour for medical achievements within NATO. Maj Gen Van Hoof is currently NATO's longest-serving COMEDS Chairman, and serves as the Secretary General of the International Committee for Military Medicine (ICMM). Maj Gen Van Hoof was awarded the Larrey Award in recognition of his seminal work on advancing the independence of the Medical Combat Service Support from Logistics, while also advancing the profile of and visibility of COMEDS within NATO HQ and facilitating the establishment of the COMEDS Steering Group.

Regarding his accomplishments, Maj Gen Van Hoof noted that “it was a team effort and I feel fortunate to be able as the Secretary General of the ICMM strengthen the international military medical relationships and cooperation even more.” The Dominique-Jean Larrey Award commemorates its namesake who conceived many of today’s principles of military medical care and humanitarian law.

The next meeting of the Surgeons General will be hosted by the USA in Washington DC in June 2017.

* The Committee of the Chiefs of Military Medical Services in NATO (COMEDS) is the senior committee for medical care within NATO. It acts as the central point for the development and coordination of military medical matters and for providing medical advice to the NATO Military Committee. COMEDS is composed of the Surgeons General of NATO and partner nations, along with the senior medical authorities of the NATO command structure and supporting medical organisations.

** The International Committee for Military Medicine (ICMM) is an international and intergovernmental organization created in 1921 whose primary mission is to maintain and strengthen the bonds of cooperation and knowledge between the Armed Forces Medical Services of all Member States.