NEWS | Feb. 23, 2014

Joint Task Force-Bravo's Medical Element provides care to more than 1,000 in remote Honduran villages

By U.S. Army Sgt. Courtney Kreft Joint Task Fore-Bravo Medical Element

Joint Task Force -Bravo's Medical Element (MEDEL), with support from JTF-Bravo Joint Security Forces, Army Forces Battalion, and the 1-228th Aviation Regiment, partnered with the Honduran Ministry of Health, the Honduran Red Cross, and the Honduran military to provide medical care to more than 1,100 people over two days in Kele Kele and Caoba, two remote villages in the Puerto Cortes region of Honduras during a Medical Readiness Training Exercise (MEDRETE), Feb 17-22.

"When we land the Hondurans are always waiting, not just for the medical support we are providing but also to help us take all our equipment off of the helicopter and to set up the site, as well as reloading the equipment when we leave," said U.S. Army Major Gerald Grass, the officer in charge for the mission. "The people are always wonderful and I enjoy every opportunity to work with my Honduran counterparts to provide the much needed medical and dental care. The local population always gathers as we leave and see us off with such graciousness."

The JTF-Bravo team, the Honduran Ministry of Health (MOH), the Red Cross, and the Honduran military worked together to provide preventative medicine to 1,137 total patients, including classes on hygiene, preventative dental care, and nutrition. They also provided immunizations to infants, dental care, wellness checkups, medications, and minor medical procedures.

The MOH also provided a veterinary technician that vaccinated 185 dogs against rabies between the two villages. A preventative medicine team fumigated the area against mosquitos that carry malaria and dengue fever, and traveled through the villages to collect mosquito larvae for testing to see if the larvae are vectors for malaria and dengue fever. The team also worked on educating the local community on where these larvae are found and what types of environments they reproduce and grow in.

"Taking part in these missions requires the ability to troubleshoot problems and maintain patience, and the U.S. military, the Honduran military, the MOH staff, and the volunteers did amazing even after a six hour convoy, some communication issues, the unique base site set-up, and the set-up in both villages," said U.S. Army First Sergeant Sean Whitehead, the non-commissioned officer-in-charge for this MEDRETE. "The mission was a complete success and we were able to provide medical care to more than 1,100 Hondurans, and gain valuable experience in the process that is very beneficial to all involved."

Joint Task Force Bravo's MEDEL is composed of 61 Army personnel who have come together from across the United States and have provided medical care to more than 6,900 people in remote villages such as Cuesta de la Virgen, Barra Patuca, Usibila, Raya, Las Liconas, El Ciruelo, Plan de Leones, Auka and Tipimuna in the last year. MEDEL provides preventative medical care, wellness check-ups, dental care, preventative dental care, surgical care, and physical therapy through local partnerships in Comayagua, Tegucigalpa, and through local MEDRETES which are carried out on a weekly basis.