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The Cure

By Capt. Russell Craig
First published in
SFOR Informer#115, June 13, 2001

Oct. 29, the Communicable Disease Surveillance Working Group (CDSWG) achieved a new success; for the first time since 1991 all the key representatives for Epidemiology in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) met together in one room.

Camp Butmir - As reported in the SFOR INFORMER (issue 115) the CDSWG was initiated by SFOR earlier this year and is concerned with epidemiological studies, that is the collection and analysis of data on diseases within BiH.
"The theatre surgeon saw that there was no reporting system so there was no bigger picture on the communicable diseases in the whole of BiH," explained American Maj. Carl Hoover, a theatre preventative medical officer.
This is a problem as the German Dr. Col. Rolf Hanke, CJMED, neatly encapsulated for the meeting: "Diseases do not stop at the border of countries. Conflicts between parties and states are not relevant when it comes to diseases."
During the meeting Dr. Semra Cavaljuga, the SFOR epidemiological consultant, outlined the aims and methods of the group: to decrease deaths through the control and prevention of such diseases.
This will be achieved by ensuring that information on communicable diseases is passed to and from grass roots (the physicians) and state level institutions.
Hoover described the end state vision as "to come to a point where a national level communicable disease surveillance program is established."
The meeting was not only a step forwards in battling diseases, it also represented a triumph in communication and mutual understanding. This was because the representatives consisted of not only the two Entities (Federation and Republika Srpska) and Brcko District but also experts from canton level too.
Hoover explained that "in the beginning the different groups wouldn't even talk to each other when in the same room. Now a few meetings on they are developing understanding and a dialogue." Thus the CDSWG is not only fighting diseases it is also part of the cure for BiH.

Related link: SFOR at Work