NEWS | Feb. 29, 2012

U.S. Ambassador, JTF-Bravo wrap up Belize MEDRETE

By Staff Sgt. Bryan Franks Joint Task Force-Bravo Public Affairs

The U.S. Ambassador to Belize visited the Joint Medical Readiness Training Exercise team on their final day after seeing more than 900 patients during the two-day MEDRETE mission to provide medical assistance to the Belizean communities throughout the region Feb. 28 and Feb. 29 here.

The Joint MEDRETE team which consisted of members from the Belize Ministries of Health and Education, Belize Defence Force and Joint Task Force-Bravo, Soto Cano Air Base, Honduras provided medical services to include 1,120 patients screenings, 55 HIV testing, 46 women's wellness visits and over 466 medications distributed.

"This is a great example of partnership and cooperation between many organizations," said Ambassador Vinai Thummalapally, U.S. Ambassador to Belize. "Addressing the needs of the children in terms of health care and education are the building blocks to improving a community, a region and nation."

Lt. Col. Keith Pritchard, JTF-Bravo's Army Forces commander, said he was impressed with the professionalism and the teamwork between the Joint Task Force team, the U.S. Embassy Belize Country Team, the Belize Defence Forces and the local officials from the Belize Ministries of Health and Education.

"I am very proud of the entire team," Pritchard said. "The planning and execution of a combined MEDRETE event of this caliber is truly a testament to the strength of the U.S. and Belizean government partnership. It's absolutely apparent that the focus of everyone involved is on something greater than ourselves... alleviating suffering of those in need, and teaching communities preventative measures that will ultimately enhance their quality of life."

During this Joint MEDRETE medical professionals treated illnesses including respiratory infections, skin infections, women's health check-ups, HIV testing, diabetes and high blood pressure.

There are several mission objectives to MEDRETES, to include providing U.S. military personnel training in delivery of medical care in austere conditions, promoting diplomatic relations between the U.S. and host nations in Central America, and providing humanitarian and civic assistance via a long-term, proactive program.

"We reap additional benefits from humanitarian assistance operations like these. These operations provide us with opportunity to hone our foreign humanitarian assistance and disaster relief team capabilities while simultaneously building our partnerships throughout Central America," Pritchard said. "With JTF-Bravo exporting medical care to remote and isolated regions through collaboration with our partner nations, we replicate similar austere conditions for our team that they would encounter in a disaster response situation."

In 2011, Joint Task Force Bravo, Soto Cano AB, Honduras provided general medical care to 14,401 patients and dental care to 1,061 patients for a total of 15,462 individuals receiving much-needed assistance.

"Thanks to all of the organizations involved, including the Belize Ministries of Health and Education, Belize Defence Force, Joint Task Force-Bravo, as well as the Military Liaison Office at the Embassy and Peace Corps Belize" said the Ambassador.