SOTO CANO AIR BASE - Honduras, –
Members from Joint Task Force-Bravo's Medical Element, located on Soto Cano Air Base, in coordination with members from the Honduran Air Force Medical staff and the Ministry of Health in Honduras, carried out a medical readiness exercise for two consecutive days for the population of Las Liconas, in Comayagua, on July 28 - 29, 2015.
As the school gates of the Ramon Ortega Rural School were opened, people entered little by little, seeking medical attention that is hard for them to get due to the limited resources in the area. Homemakers left their obligations aside in order to get their children to a place where they could receive a free medical checkup.
"It is good that these doctors come once in a while to visit us since we are very poor people and traveling to Comayagua for medical care is hard for us; here it is also free. Look at me with my asthma, but thank God, they have given me medicine" said Mrs. María Argueta, a 65 year old woman who visited the site.
The services for the community included preventative medicine, medical consultations, and dental care as well as a pharmacy. Nurses from Honduran public health services performed pap smears as well as provided vaccination for both children and adults.
"We are working on behalf of Public Health on the immunological aspects, and we have found cases where mothers have not taken their children to get vaccinated and this is very important and very urgent for parents to do and never forget" said Merly Soler, nurse form the Comayagua Health Center.
Before entering a consultation, people are given a class on personal hygiene, and once it ended receive a bag with soap, tooth brushes and vitamins for children as well as prenatal vitamins. Children also received a class on dental care and received fluoride treatment.
During day two, COL Robert Harman, Commander of JTF-Bravo, greeted Manuel Cartagena, Deputy Mayor of Comayagua, who arrived at the site to witness the involvement JTF-Bravo has with the local community first hand.
Dr. Dolores Ortega, Honduran Ministry of Health regional representative, who also visited the site, and said that coordination with JTF-Bravo has been going very well. "We send out our work plans, where we are headed, what we need and JTF-Bravo has always made itself present," said Dr. Ortega.
She also acknowledged that everything was set up in a highly-functional way for the patients, starting with a preventive and personal hygiene class before passing through a medical or dental consultation where they were prescribed medication if necessary, and were afterwards directed to the pharmacy. "US medical teams are characterized by their order and good organization. They guide the patient exactly where they need to go," she said.
Medical Readiness Training Exercises provide US service members the opportunity to engage with the community as well as validate their ability to perform under expeditionary environments.
Additional participants included members from the Honduran Military Police and Joint Security Forces who provided security during the event, as well as volunteer translators and Honduran doctors who made this a US and Honduran joint exercise.