Servicemembers begin medical mission in Peru
By Tech. Sgt. Kerry Jackson , Task Force New Horizons Public Affairs
/ Published June 25, 2008
AYACUCHO, Peru (AFPN) -- Continuing in their effort to provide relief to underprivileged Peruvians, U.S. servicemembers here Monday kicked off the medical mission of New Horizons - Peru 2008, a U.S. and Peruvian humanitarian initiative scheduled through Aug. 31.
The humanitarian medical mission, currently staffed by 35 U.S. Air Force medics, will provide free medical care to people living in the poorest regions of Ayacucho, Peru. At the same time, the Task Force New Horizons team is currently constructing much needed medical clinics, schools and waters wells during the three-month mission.
"Our construction projects are progressing quite well, and all of the task force members are doing an outstanding job providing the Peruvians with their best work," said Maj. Matt Joganich, the Task Force New Horizons commander. "But it's the medical missions that we've been looking forward to because they allow us to meet more of the people this mission directly impacts."
The New Horizons - Peru Air Force medical team is providing dentistry, general medicine, internal medicine, optometry, as well as public health lessons for three days at three separate sites - Yanamilla, San Cristobal and Chiara. The team will also provide more than $40,000 in pharmaceutical drugs for their Peruvian patients. 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.
"We came prepared to provide the best care possible for the people of Peru," said Chief Master Sgt. Tim Healy, the Task Force New Horizons medical planner. "It took a great deal of planning, coordinating and working with Peruvian health professionals to get here, but we're more than ready and look forward to treating and educating our Peruvian friends."
During the three-month humanitarian mission, U.S. Air Force, Army 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.
The Air Force medical units participating in this rotation of the medical missions include the 452nd Medical Group from March Air Reserve Base, Calif., the 349th Medical Group at Travis Air Force Base, Calif., the 459th Aero Medical Dental Squadron at Andrews AFB, Md., and Air Force Reserve Headquarters, Robins AFB, Ga.
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.
For more information about New Horizons - Peru 2008, visit http://www.12af.acc.af.mil/library/newhorizons.asp.