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News | July 27, 2010

JTF-Bravo brings medical care to Honduran villagers

By 1st Lt. Jennifer Richard Joint Task Force-Bravo Public Affairs

There is no easy way to travel in and out of the municipality of Duyure, Honduras. No roads are paved within an hour and a half of town, and the existing dirt roads weave up and down through mountainous terrain. Factor in Honduras' rainy season, which spans May through October, and driving the dirt roads becomes nearly impossible.

This remoteness is exactly why the Honduran Ministry of Health selected Duyure as a site for a Medical Civic Assistance Program, a medical clinic conducted July 20 by Honduran health care providers, the Honduran military and Joint Task Force-Bravo.

During the MEDCAP, medical personnel treated 435 Duyure citizens in need of care. The patients received preventive health briefings, visited nurses for screening, and then got the opportunity to meet with a doctor, see a dentist and receive medications.

For the residents of the Duyure region, this was a rare opportunity to see doctors and receive professional medical attention.

"From here, the closest location for emergency care is Choluteca - about two hours away by road," said Dr. Carlos Duron, a liaison officer in JTF-Bravo's Medical Element. "Today we were able to provide treatment for most of the conditions we saw. We had some patients with acute problems, and we were able to work with the Ministry of Health to get them proper care."

The MEDCAP was a result of months of cooperation and planning by the Honduran Ministry of Health, the Honduran military, JTF-Bravo and local volunteers. Fourteen members of JTF-Bravo's Medical Element supported the MEDCAP, with transportation provided by two Blackhawk helicopters from JTF-Bravo's 1-228th Aviation Regiment.

"We had everyone - Airmen, Soldiers, civilians - pitching in and working together on this mission," said Maj. Saundeth Williams, the mission officer-in-charge and MEDEL's chief of preventive medicine. "Our presence showed the Duyure people that we are here to help, and they were very appreciative."

JTF-Bravo, based out of Soto Cano Air Base, Honduras, conducts humanitarian assistance operations throughout Central America. The next medical assistance program is scheduled to take place Aug. 10-13 in the Mosquitia region of Honduras.