The role of militaries in health emergencies: after Ebola, where next?



5 September 2017


United States Studies Centre, Institute Building, City Road, The University of Sydney


Public event

For a long time, the involvement of military personnel in health-related activities has been controversial, with critics arguing that it can blur the lines between humanitarian agencies and the armed forces. Some have even suggested that it has resulted in the mistreatment of humanitarian workers. Yet in 2014 militaries played an important role in the international response to the West African Ebola outbreak, potentially establishing a precedent for future health emergencies.

Bringing together three currently serving and former military officers who were involved in the Ebola response, the panel discussed what role militaries should play in future health crises.


  • Dr Adam Kamradt-Scott
    Dr Adam Kamradt-Scott
    Non-Resident Fellow, United States Studies Centre

    Dr Adam Kamradt-Scott is a non-resident fellow at the United States Studies Centre. He was previously an associate professor in global health security and international relations at the University of Sydney.

  • David Knapp

    David Knapp is a retired Army officer who served over 29 years on active and reserve duty as an infantry and civil affairs officer in Germany, Italy, Panama, Bosnia, and several tours in the Middle East. From 2011-2017 he served as the civilian Director and Deputy Director of Civil Military...

  • Major Joseph Kowo

    Joseph Kowo is a Major and the Deputy Chief Medical Officer for Operations in the Armed Forces of Liberia. In this role, Maj. Kowo oversees the healthcare coverage of more than 2,000 AFL soldiers and their dependents. In addition, he currently serves as the Liberian Focal Person for the HIV/AIDS...

  • Louis Lillywhite

    Louis Lillywhite retired as surgeon general of the UK Armed Forces in 2010. His 42-year career in the Army included medical appointments as a consultant occupational physician; operational deployments; and command and staff appointments in the Ministry of Defence and in various army and NATO Headquarters.  Much of his early...