AYACUCHO, Peru --
U.S. Air Force Reserve medical personnel cared for more than 4,860 Peruvians during the first round of medical missions here for New Horizons - Peru 2008, a U.S. and Peruvian humanitarian mission focused on providing relief to underprivileged Peruvians.
The U.S. Air Force Reserve medical team, working alongside their Peruvian counterparts, treated a number of ailments, including those unique to the South American region. In addition to the medical relief provided through New Horizons, a number of other humanitarian efforts are also in progress, which includes the construction of much needed medical clinics, schools and water wells to improve the quality-of-life for people living in the poorest regions of Ayacucho, Peru.
"Our team accomplished what we set out to do, and that was to bring quality medical care to as many underprivileged Peruvians as possible - all while building friendships within their communities," said Col. Mary Lussier, the medical mission commander. "The adults and the children were as happy to see us, as we were to see them, and I could not have been more proud to be in Peru at this moment."
The New Horizons Air Force Reserve medical team provided care in dentistry, general medicine, internal medicine, optometry, as well as public health lessons for three days at three separate sites - San Jose, San Cristobal and Chiara. The team also provided more than $40,000 in pharmaceutical drugs for their Peruvian patients.
Some of the most prevalent medical conditions found within Peruvian communities included eyesight deficiencies, eye infections, skin diseases and upper respiratory conditions.
"This mission has proven invaluable for our entire team of Air Force medics," said Senior Master Sgt. Teresa Denton-Price, the MEDRETE Liaison Officer. "It gave us an opportunity to treat conditions that are not commonly found in the United States, and so, as much as we were helping them, they were helping us."
To defuse the two-way language barrier, the medical team deployed 17 medical personnel fluent in Spanish to aid doctors in diagnosing health issues and providing quality medical care.
"The Spanish interpreters are an essential part of our team, and if not for their ability to communicate with our patients, the mission would have been stalled or completely handicapped," said Maj Lazette Bretthorst, the Air Force Reserve Command Surgeon medical planner. "They round out an already superb team of Airmen on a mission set on helping those in need."
The Air Force Reserve medical units participating in this rotation of the medical missions include the 452nd Medical Group from March Air Reserve Base, Calif., the 349th Aeromedical Staging Squadron at Travis Air Force Base, Calif., the 459th Aero Medical Dental Squadron at Andrews AFB, Md., and the International Health Specialist Program, Air Force Reserve Headquarters, Robins AFB, Ga. "
Any Air Force Reserve medic would jump at the opportunity to be a part of this humanitarian mission," said Master Sgt. Javier Retamoza, the 452 Medical Group Unit Deployed First Sergeant. "I have been looking forward to this mission and it has exceeded all my expectations."
During the three-month humanitarian mission, U.S. Air Force Reserve and Navy medical personnel operating on a rotational schedule, will lead nine, three-day medical operations and are scheduled to treat up to 750 patients per day and up to 20,000 patients over the duration of the mission.
U.S. Southern Command sponsors approximately 70 medical missions per year. Twelfth Air Force (Air Forces Southern), the air and space component to USSOUTHCOM, plans and executes about 30 of these exercises in locations throughout Central and South America, plus additional sites throughout the Caribbean.
New Horizons - Peru 2008 is scheduled through Aug. 31.
For more information about New Horizons - Peru 2008, visit http://www.12af.acc.af.mil/library/newhorizons.asp