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Associated Press/Washington Post Examine Contributions Of Military Research To Reducing Global Disease Burden

In light of the U.S. Army’s announcement yesterday that an experimental HIV vaccine trial it is sponsoring in Thailand showed modest potential for preventing infection, the Associated Press/Washington Post examines how military research is contributing to the fight against major diseases around the world.

“Though military research has also benefited the civilian world, the main reason for the huge effort is to protect the U.S. armed forces as they are exposed to disease and injury while deployed around the world,” the news service writes. Pentagon spokesperson Cynthia Smith said, “If half of your force comes down with malaria, you can’t do the mission.” According to Smith, “the Defense Department budget for medical research in budget year 2009 was more than $917 million, but [she] noted the figure doesn’t include money also spent by the individual services,” the news service writes.

“Having our labs placed overseas where the diseases are endemic is very important because that’s where the diseases are,” said Eric Hall, a spokesperson for the Naval Medical Research Center. “In Peru, for instance, researchers study infectious diseases such as the pandemic flu or the dengue virus. They also help train local workers in how to investigate outbreaks and help local U.S. diplomatic missions where they are located,” according to the news service (Jelinek, 9/24).

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.