Medical Knowledge Exchange
Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa
Understanding the medical capabilities of any environment or rural area is vital to providing the best medical care to patients in a city, region or nation. One method to develop this understanding is to learn about medical care challenges and best practices through regional cooperation and the use of medical caravans.
Djiboutian medical providers in coordination with the Djibouti Ministry of Health, United States Agency for International Development and the Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa Army 404th Civil Affairs Battalion functional specialties team took part in the Dikhil Region Medical Caravan. The event included specialists in the fields of ophthalmology, pediatrics, and obstetrics and gynecology, to provide medical treatment and medications to over one hundred villagers in Yoboki, Djibouti, Mar. 17.
“This is the first time we have held an event like this in the past year at CJTF-HOA and it is a door-opener for future events and future partnerships with the Ministry of Health,” said U.S. Army Lt. Col. Joshua Hawley-Molloy, CJTF-HOA 404th CA BN, functional specialties team physician. “We are hoping in the future to involve a dental element and a veterinary element so these caravans can be a full spectrum of health care capacity building working with the Djiboutian Government.”
Developing these medical caravans will further the growth of medical care in the region, and will enable the communities to develop solutions for East African issues during these partnership-building events.
Through the cooperative efforts of all agencies involved, the caravans have the chance to grow relationships within the local communities and improve the villager’s healthcare awareness by learning what to look for in the early stages of malnutrition, malaria, complications in pregnancy and basic sanitation.
“The doctors and medical staff of the Dikhil region and Yoboki medical clinic are grateful of the opportunity to share knowledge with CJTF-HOA, USAID and Djibouti Ministry of Health,” said Moustapha Amin Mohamed, Dikhil region doctor. “With the efforts of everyone involved we are able to make an impact on a village that doesn’t normally see this level of care.”
According to Mansour Ahmed, USAID health program management specialist, this caravan is important to these residents as they do not get normal medical care, due to the remote locations of their villages. The patients that are seen during these caravans normally will wait till the last minute to seek medical care, or almost be into the delivering stage of a pregnancy. These events can mean saving someone’s life by early detection of a disease or other health issues.
“Our colleagues from CJTF-HOA are supporting Ministry of Health and USAID in conducting a medical caravan to serve the rural population in this particular area of the Dikhil Region,” said Ahmed. “This caravan allows them to find early detection of problems, because these specialists from CJTF-HOA, USAID and MOH are identifying the problem, advising patients and issuing medicines or referring them to a higher level of medical care when need be.”
According to Hawley-Molloy, through building partnerships like this, it secures CJTF-HOA’s stance with our East African partner nations and prepares the CA battalion to help local and military personnel to understand the care that is available in the local regions of operations. This understanding allows the Ministry of Health to refer patients to the medical facility that can provide the best care.
The medical caravan is just the beginning of the relationship and will hopefully grow into eventually training the Djiboutian nurses and doctors on a variety of medical topics.
“We were there to support them as partners, in helping with the cost of medications but additionally to allow the medical providers here at CJTF-HOA to learn more about the Djiboutian Health System and ways that we can partner with them in the future,” Hawley-Molloy said. “By learning their skill sets, we may be able to improve our skill sets to better accommodate the local community.”