NEWS | Aug. 21, 2008

Multi-national team provides medical services to La Mosquita region

By Staff Sgt. Joel Mease Joint Task Force-Bravo Public Affairs

The United States military partnered with Central American military forces along with volunteers from the Americas to participate in two medical readiness exercises Aug. 19.

The villages of Clubki and Raya were visited to train the teams and to provide free medical services to people in La Mosquita region. The two medical readiness exercises performed Aug. 19 are part of a four-site exercise based out of Puerto Castilla. The villages of Sakwalaya and Uhi were visited by the medical teams Aug. 20.

The exercises performed in La Mosquita region allow the members at Joint Task Force-Bravo to train with their Central American counterparts in the event of a disaster. Volunteers from the United States and Central America also participated to give extended medical care to the villages visited, said Dr. Wilmer Amador, JTF-Bravo Medical Element liaison officer.

Services provided in the MEDREDE were eye care, dentistry, primary care, cervical cancer screenings and pharmacy services, Dr. Amador said.

Besides the benefit of training, the ability to provide services to the people in La Mosquita region is extremely important due to their remote location. For example the last time a medical team visited the village of Clubki was more than 10 years ago, he said.

"Because of how remote it is here, just seeing one patient in this village is the equivalent of me seeing 10 in either Comayagua or Tegucigalpa," Dr. Amador said. "Its very difficult for people in this area to see medical care due to how hard it is to bring transportation in here."

The volunteers who participated in the MEDREDE also enjoyed having the ability to help people in a remote area.

"So much can be done here because of how remote La Mosquita is," said Dr. Jose Zuniga, a volunteer from Miami, Fla. "It allows me to fulfill my dream of being able to give back to people what I have received in my life."

For Dr. Juan Alejandro Burgos, a volunteer dentist from Tegucigalpa, it was an opportunity to help out his countrymen.

"It is a great experience to come and give them something extra, so they don't have to go in search of it we came to them instead," Dr. Burgos said. "It is such an honor for me to come and help in a part of this country that is historically so isolated."

One of the key components of the exercise was being able to work with multiple countries deployed out of one central area.

"I initially thought it was going to be very challenging to work with multiple countries to perform our mission, but it the end it turned out to be very successful," Dr. Amador said. "The idea was for us to create a clinic in a short period of time and be able to treat several hundred people and we accomplished this quite well."