Pediatric Humanitarian Assistance

A longitudinal and block curriculum in medical humanitarian assistance, disaster relief, and international health

The NCC Pediatrics Residency offers a Humanitarian Assistance elective available to junior and senior residents.  Recognizing that a global health experience in the context of graduate medical education presents logistical challenges and that diverse experiences directed towards an individualized curriculum forms a stronger and more rounded military pediatric community as a whole, the NCC Pediatrics Residency maintains and actively seeks a wide range of international health experiences for our residents to complement our military unique curriculum.   The wide variety of experiences is available to all services – Army, Navy, and Air Force – and is flexible and diverse enough to weather upheaval in geopolitical and funding crises.

Military Medical Humanitarian Assistance Course

The NCC Pediatrics Residency continues a commitment to train every resident in the Military Medical Humanitarian Assistance Course (MMHAC), which was co-developed by a member of our faculty in 1998.  The 2-day course, offered on-site each year in the Spring in addition to courses offered at other medical centers, and even afloat on ships actively engaged in HA operations, has now trained over 150 NCC Peds residents.  The curriculum focuses on understanding HA operations from both the organizational and clinical point of view.  Our residents learn about the civilian-military relationship, Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and their strengths and capabilities, and the strengths and limitations of the military.  In addition, our residents learn how to administer Oral Rehydration Therapy (ORT) and run an ORT program and how to use the World Health Organization (WHO) Medical Kit to treat infectious diseases such as malaria, pneumonia and measles.  The course is a practical and hands-on: residents drink ORT, perform mock epidemiologic surveillance, and eat a HA ration for lunch on the 2nd day.

MEDRETE Honduras


(above) Capt Emily McElveen, Pediatrics Resident Class of 2013, examines an infant in rural Honduras


Joint Task Force Bravo and SOUTHCOM of the Department of Defense sponsor medical assistance missions to allied nations in Latin and South America, and the pediatric residency has teamed up to assist with one to three missions to Honduras each year.  The missions range from outreach medical assistance to the host nation in remote areas, to providing pre-op and recovery pediatric services to pediatric surgical teams.  These missions are also sponsored by the Center for Disaster and Humanitarian Assistance Medicine (CDHAM) located at the Uniformed Services University.






USNS Comfort (T-AH 1)

The USNS Comfort, home-ported in Baltimore, and its sister ship Mercy in San Diego, are 1,000 bed hospital ships.  In addition to their wartime role as 3rd echelon medical facilities in theater, they serve a critical peacetime role in disaster relief and humanitarian assistance operations.  In January 2010, the Comfort steamed off the coast of Haiti after the earthquake and served as the largest and most advanced medical facility available.  Several members of the residency faculty and alumni were aboard during that operation, and cared for children and infants medevac’ed from the mainland.  Operating under mass casualty conditions, the pediatricians ran a makeshift NICU and nursery for the term and premature neonates born to mothers who suffered pelvic fractures and other trauma during the earthquake.

The Comfort has had missions to Latin America every other year, and our pediatric residents can rotate on the Comfort during its real-world operations.  Focusing on preventive medicine, health screening, and nutrition, our pediatric residents work with the pediatric specialists assigned to the Comfort for the mission.  The rotation is open to residents from all services: Air Force, Army, and Navy.






LT Katherine Koss, Pediatrics resident Class of 2011, examines a child in rural Ecuador during as a member of the Comfort’s crew

the Comfort steams to Haiti in 2010 for earthquake relief operation

LT Koss with a child with cleft lip and palate


Operation Smile


Operation Smile, which provides surgical correction of cleft lip and palate, has been a partner with the U.S. military in some of its humanitarian assistance operations.  Faculty and residents have served as Regan Fellows.  The residency actively encourages our residents to apply for this program.


(left) LT Janie Zuber, Pediatric Resident Class of 2012 and Regan Fellow, examines a child in China during an Operation Smile mission


GEIS Kenya & Peru

The Armed Forces Global Emerging Infectious Disease Surveillance (GEIS) project aims to enhance the infectious disease surveillance and response components of the international public health infrastructure by creating efficient, sustainable training and networking opportunities to regional health authorities.  As part of that mission, GEIS funds GME trainees in all specialties to work with military and local health personnel around the world.

Residents from the NCC Pediatrics Residency usually obtain 1 to 2 slots per year.  Most of our GEIS residents rotate in Kenya at the local pediatrics hospital in Nairobi with our partner, the US Army Medical Research Unit- Kenya.  Residents who have rotated in Kenya cite it as one of their most enlightening and powerful pediatrics experiences.  In 2012, our first two residents rotated in Lima, Peru and had similarly powerful experiences.

(right) a child cared for by a pediatrics resident, class of 2011, during a GEIS rotation in Kenya                                                     


Mission Trips with Church Groups or Private Organizations

Residents are encouraged to continue or seek relationships with other organizations that provide international medical services.  These experiences can be incorporated into the curriculum.

Exciting New Opportunities

The NCC Pediatrics Residency is constantly looking to expand its offerings of global and international health experiences that will benefit the education and future humanitarian and disaster assistance medical capabilities of our graduates for use in the real-world missions in which they will be engaged.  Two new ventures include the TATRC Medical Translation project and the DoD HIVoutreach project.

Medical Translation Project with TATRC

An exciting new development is in the works for the residency and MEDRETE Honduras.  The Telemedicine Advanced Technology & Research Center (TATRC) offered the NCC Peds Residency and its partners an opportunity to engage in the development of the field/military application of a translation technology called Jibbigo.  This is an off-the-shelf technology for mobile devices for which TATRC is funding further development.  As a real-world test site with real-world medical providers, our MEDRETE Honduras missions could expand in conjunction with the TATRC project, with potential for expansion to missions in Southeast Asia and Francophone Africa as well.  See the TATRC (, ) and Jibbigo ( websites for information.

DoD HIV Outreach Project

The HIV/AIDS Prevention Project of the Department of Defense had contacted the NCC for partnership in providing medical services alongside with real-world training in sub-Saharan Africa.  Pediatricians and pediatric subspecialists figure highly in plans for team composition.


This site is maintained and funded by friends and relatives of NCC Pediatrics program alumni, and is not affiliated with any Department of Defense entity. For more information, contact the Webmaster.