Alper ÇALIK / firstname.lastname@example.org
Military Medical WebEx, described by the hosts as “the first product exhibition and international conference organised as a fully-fledged online business meeting”, was held on 9–10 June. The event program, which set out to discuss developments in the military healthcare sector, included four webinars and 264 B2G meetings. Moreover, 64 companies presented their capabilities via online booths. The event was followed by participants from 16 countries, including 56 military officials.
Hakan Kurt, Military Medical WebEx Managing Director, speaking at the inauguration ceremony on the “Threats and Success Stories of Bio Defence”, summarised the rationale behind the event: “The global pandemic, which is triggering great events in the world in military and political terms, shaped the starting point of Military Medical WebEx. Military Medical WebEx is designed to evaluate and improve on the medical ecosystems of armies, as the protectors of nations, as well as the biological attacks that the world is facing.”
Pandemics Have Taken Millions of Lives
Kurt elaborated on the effects on the world of various pandemics in history: “The Antonine Plague of 165 AD took the lives of more than 5 million people. The Roman Empire lost one-third of its army, and it was due to the resulting decline in public authority that Christianity was able to spread throughout the Empire. Arriving from Egypt, the Justinian Plague of 541 reached İstanbul, and led to between 25 million and 100 million deaths. 10,000 people were dying in İstanbul every day, and the plague continued for 200 years. As a result, efforts to unite the East and West Roman Empires ground to a halt, and Islam began to spread all over the world.
The biological diseases that broke out during the Crusades had a devastating effect on Europe. In the First Crusade, the crusader army that had been 600,000 soldiers strong when it came close to Antioch had been depleted to 50,000 by the time, they reached Jerusalem due to the pandemic. The Black Death broke out in 1346, and it is estimated that between 75 and 200 million people died as a result of the disease, which brought feudal system to an end. The Spanish Flu, as the first H1N1 virus outbreak, killed 50 million people and infected 500 million. The World Health Organization was established in 1919, just as world wars were starting.”
Lessons Learned from COVID-19
The other speaker of the inauguration ceremony was Colonel Doctor Xhevdet Tahiraj, Director of the Department for Medical Issues in the Ministry of Defence of Kosovo. Colonel Tahiraj emphasised the importance of their participation in Military Medical WebEx, stating that they were following closely the approaches of other countries to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19): “Present and future actions are the reflection how we really see the story of success on the fight against COVID-19. Technically, importance of fighting this invisible threat was global aim, with different perspective in many parts of the world. One of the success stories to prevent its spread was lockdown of infection sites, movement control of specific areas on time in order to have less cases of contact. It took a lot of effort from all, citizens, institutions, ministries and partner states to work all together.”
He said that the fight against this pandemic required both national and international resources, and added that humanity as a whole should learn a lesson from the COVID-19 pandemic.
International Military Healthcare Authorities Come Together
Moderated by journalist Hakan Çelik, the topics and speakers in the video conferences were as follows:
Military Healthcare Industry and Opportunities:
- Brenda M. Butler, Vice President of Global Military Sales at ZOLL Government Division
Medical Forces Power:
- Lieutenant General Khawar Rahman, Surgeon General of the Pakistani Army
- Prof. Dr. Major General Md Fashiur Rahman, Director General of Medical Services, Bangladeshi Army
- Assist. Prof. Dr. M. Sadık Akyar, Director of the International School of Diplomacy and Security Research Centre, Girne American University
Bio-Terrorism Attacks, Safety and Security Policies:
- Burçak Çabuk, Director of the CBRN Office, Ministry of Turkish National Defence
- Vladan Radosavljevic, Chief of the Department for Preventive Medicine at the Serbian Military Medical Corps Headquarters, Serbia Ministry of Defence