Article: Erwin Dhondt

Concise Report of the 11th DiMiMED 2023

The 11th DiMiMED International Conference on Disaster and Military Medicine took place on November 13 and 14, 2023 in Düsseldorf, Germany, as a unique side event of the MEDICA Fair, the world’s largest gathering of the medical industrial sector. This scientific meeting brought together about 200 participants from 33 different countries worldwide and was also attended by 22 partners and sponsors from the medical industry, under the expert leadership of the professional congress organizer ‘BETA Publishing and Marketing Company’.
After an encouraging Welcome Address by Michael Degen, Executive Director of the Messe Düsseldorf GmbH, Major General (Air) Bernard PHALEG, the newly appointed Chief Strategy Officer of the Belgian Defense, set the scene whilst delivering the Official Opening Speech on concepts such as ‘Total Defense’, societal resilience, civil-military cooperation and the establishment of an operational reserve, followed by an inspiring Keynote by Dutch Colonel Dr. Wynand Korterink (NLD Army), the Surgeon General of the 1 (German/Netherlands) Corps. He explained how the society’s health and healthcare systems are impacted by warfighting or other disruptive shocks and how to respond thereto. Each of the two conference days started with general insights into evolving Disaster and Military Medicine brought together every morning in an exciting session on ‘Moving Points’, chaired by both scientific hosts and co-chairmen, Colonel (ret.) Gerald Kerr (IRL) and Brigadier General (ret.) Dr. Erwin Dhondt (BEL). Traditionally, 4 consecutive panels were skillfully led by an equal number of moderators, who largely also guaranteed their composition.
On Day 1 of the conference, the ‘CBRN Medical Management’ session, compiled and directed by US Army Lieutenant Colonel Tommy Rezentes, from the Office of the US Army Surgeon General and also serving as the chair of the NATO COMEDS CBRN Medical Training Panel.
The late-afternoon module was on ‘Combat Medical Care’, moderated by Lieutenant Colonel Dr. Florent Josse, an operational anesthetist from the Deutsche Bundeswehr Health Service, working in the Military Hospital of Ulm.
The first module on Day 2 was about ‘Mental Health’, moderated, for several years now, by a loyal ally of DiMiMED, retired Dutch Army Colonel Professor Dr. Eric Vermetten, teaching at the Leiden University Medical Center in The Netherlands.
A session entitled ‘Disaster Medicine and the Humanitarian Perspective’ concluded the 2nd day’s program. That had been designed and was chaired by Dr. John Quinn, an academic research fellow at the First Faculty of Medicine at Charles University in Prague, in the Czech Republic.
As such, very specific, although complementary subjects passed through the parade: from military and humanitarian disaster considerations in far forward medicine, also when in such settings, health care might be in danger, to recognizing sentinel signs of radiation exposure, autonomous battlefield care & disaster evacuation, prolonged field care in conflict and disasters and rehabilitation thereafter, but also talking about protecting the health of responders and humanitarian workers, or about moral injury in military veterans and civilians or even fostering mental resilience in the context of climate-related disasters.
Unfortunately, also this year, the war in Ukraine created a considerable need for discussion and coordination across countries, urging us again to address issues of evolving casualty care on the ‘modern’ battlefield.
The clinical presentations were interspersed by additional industrial contributions. Attendees were encouraged to feed Q&A sessions but also to approach and interact with the speakers and the ‘on-site’ exhibitors during the various – meanwhile extended – coffee and lunch breaks.
The positive feedback that we have already received from our participants, thanks to our survey, encourages us to continue with the same momentum for next year’s edition, but also to think about an additional track such as perhaps on force health protection or occupational military health, about original topics of disaster medical management, and why not about a ‘round table panel discussion’ with international opinion leaders and decision makers with even more room for networking and exchanges of ideas.
So, save of the date for 2024! You’re coming too, right!
Join us at the 12th DiMiMed International Conference alongside the MEDICA Trade Fair at ‘Messe’ Düsseldorf: 11 – 12 November 2024.

Brigadier General (ret.) Erwin Dhondt, MD, MSc, MHA, SFS Co-Chairman DiMiMED


Date: 06/27/2024

Source: European Military Medical Services 2024