Bringing medicine to mountain villagers
By Maj. Angelic Dolan, Joint Task Force-Bravo Public Affairs
/ Published May 10, 2013
SOTO CANO AIR BASE, Honduras -- Joint Task Force-Bravo partnered with Honduran Ministry of Health and Honduran military personnel, to provide medical services to more than 500 Cuesta de la Virgen community members during a Medical Readiness Training Exercise, May 6.
"Together with our host nation counterparts, we are providing medical care directly to a village in the Comayaguan Mountains; an area where medical assets are not readily available," said U.S. Air Force Capt. Scott Gaught, officer in charge of the MEDRETE.
Hundreds of villagers wrapped around a local elementary school and patiently waited to enter the classroom being used to teach preventive medicine, good hygiene, and nutrition classes. Following the classroom instruction, villagers were provided the opportunity to meet with a nurse, dentist or medical provider depending on their needs to receive assistance which ranged from routine medical checkups, basic immunizations, deworming medicine for children, tooth extractions and gynecological services.
"Today we were able to take our multinational partnership with our host nation to new heights as we were provided the opportunity to strengthen our relationships with the local community and promote good will, and show that we genuinely care about the well-being of our local neighbors," said Dr. Wilmer Amador, JTF-B Medical Liaison Officer. "We had a unique situation here today, in which we were able to evaluate patients, link them up with the right treatment provider, strengthen the Ministry of Health referral system and render the proper assistance for follow ups; opportunities like this make conducting the mission worthwhile."
The one day visit to Cuesta de la Virgen resulted in the medical team treating 516 patients, 64 dental patients, 153 preventive dentistry patients, 13 women's health patients, and nine receiving immunizations.
"It is vital for us to provide MEDRETE with our partner nations, because it allows us to give back to the community, strengthen our relationships and good will with the local citizens, and confirms our readiness capabilities to respond to disasters or humanitarian assistance missions, which are essential parts of the JTF-B mission," said JTF-B Medical Element Commander U.S. Army Lt. Col. (Dr.) Bart Diaz.
Joint Task Force-Bravo conducts MEDRETEs throughout Central America each year in support of U.S. Southern Command's humanitarian assistance and disaster relief programs in order to strengthen civil-military cooperation between the United States and nations in the region. In coordination with the Offices of Security Cooperation and partner nation Department of Health Officials in all seven Central American countries, JTF- Bravo treated more than 11,000 patients, last year.