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Belizean, US officials make final preparations for Corozal MEDRETES

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Kali Gradishar
  • 12th Air Force (Air Forces Southern)
Belizean government and U.S. military officials met March 24 to discuss final preparations for the upcoming New Horizons medical readiness training exercises, or MEDRETES, in the Corozal region in Belize.

Belizean and military medical providers will use the MEDRETES as an opportunity to learn from one another as they provide medical care to residents out of schools in Chunox, Progresso and Libertad.

"The three schools agreed to let us use their facilities to provide medical care, so we reconnected with the principals to make sure everything was ready to go," said Lt. Col. James Smith, New Horizons chief liaison officer. Belizean and U.S. medical teams will work side by side "to provide general medicine, dentistry and veterinarian care to the local population" and their pets.

"New Horizons is an example of one of the humanitarian and disaster relief missions," Smith said. "Not only is it a way for us to provide direct medical care on an individual basis to the people of Belize, it allows us an opportunity to train."

For the past few months, the Belizean government and U.S. military representatives have coordinated these exercises to ensure the best possible care is provided to the locals while also providing valuable training opportunities for Belizean and U.S. medical professionals.

The final visit was to touch base with administrators at each school, said Pablo Gonzalez, Ministry of Education School Community Liaison Officer. "Permission has been granted by the Ministry of Education, [so we were] reiterating that the mission will take place, and it's very close."

The training exercises are a two-way partnership during which Belizean and U.S. participants can benefit from working with one another as they share knowledge in their respective specialties of general medicine, dental and veterinarian practices. Sharing lessons learned and best practices between the countries' medical professionals is advantageous to both countries as they strive to better the care provided.

"When it deals with getting things to the community, for example medical services or any other form of help and assistance to the community, our leaders are quite helpful for that," Gonzalez explained. "Getting permissions and planning has been smooth running because we see the need."

Belize was the site of New Horizons 2013, during which great benefits were seen on both the Belizean and U.S. military fronts.

"The people are what make the country," said Smith of his perception of Belize. The magnitude of "accomplishments they've made and the milestones they've met is great, and they've made great strides in the care they provide to their people.

Residents of all ages in regions near the schools can meet with medical providers and receive care at each of the three schools where Belizean and U.S. medical professionals will be stationed.

"I just want to encourage the community to come out," Gonzales said. "Take advantage of this opportunity" as Belizean and U.S. medical teams provide care in Chunox, Progresso and Libertad.

"The doctors will be waiting to assist you," he added.