NEWS | Dec. 20, 2011

JTF-Bravo delivers health to 1,400 Guatemalan residents

By Capt. Candice Allen Joint Task Force-Bravo Public Affairs Office

Twenty-two members from Joint Task Force-Bravo provided medical care to more than 1,400 residents Dec. 8-13 in an isolated region of southwest Guatemala.

JTF-Bravo members teamed up with their Guatemalan medical partners, including the Guatemalan Ministry of Health and the Military Group in El Codo and Champerico.

During the medical readiness and training exercise, medical professionals treated illnesses including respiratory infections, skin infections, pneumonia, tuberculosis, diabetes and high blood pressure in the region.

"This was a great opportunity to enhance our partnership with the Guatemalan government and its' Ministry of Health," said Col. Matthew Rettke, commander of Medical Element, Soto Cano Air Base, Honduras.

The servicemembers set up clinics, screened patients, checked prescriptions, taught prevention health classes and provided dental care.

"These types of missions provide the opportunity to work as a team with partner nations, allowing us to provide health care to underserved populations," said Dr. Guillermo Saenz, a Honduran medical officer from MEDEL.

By the end of the four-day mission, U.S. and Guatemalan medical staff assisted nearly 150 dental patients and screened more than 1,000 people.

More than 650 Guatemalans received items from the pharmacy who otherwise may not have received prescriptions.

"I'm very thankful and happy that they're here," said Mr. Juan Reyes, a Champerico resident who attended the MEDRETE. "The medicine is hard to get (here) or they don't have enough supplies."

In addition to the medical care, JTF-Bravo servicemembers established a command and control function at the MEDRETE.

Six JTF-Bravo members established and maintained communication with Soto Cano Air Base via satellite during the MEDRETE.

JTF-Bravo's medical professionals are slated to conduct another MEDRETE in Honduras next month.

In fiscal year 2011, JTF-Bravo medical members conducted 15 MEDRETES treating more than 41,000 patients throughout Central America.