CJTF-HOA Participates in Operation: MASH in Ethiopia

DEBAKA DEBOBESA, Ethiopia (Mar. 15, 2012) -  U.S. Army Corporal Benjamin Whiddon, a Houston, Texas, native and Civil Affairs Team 4905 medic, hands a insecticide-treated net to an Ethiopian woman in Debaka Debobesa, Ethiopia, March 15, 2012. As part of an effort to deter a seasonal spike of malaria in the region, CAT 4905 delivered 18,000 packs of insecticide-treated bed nets, rope and nails to Ethiopians in Samaro and Debaka Debobesa, March 15 and 16. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sergeant Andrew Caya) CJTF-HOA Photo DEBAKA DEBOBESA, Ethiopia (Mar. 15, 2012) - U.S. Army Corporal Benjamin Whiddon, a Houston, Texas, native and Civil Affairs Team 4905 medic, hands a insecticide-treated net to an Ethiopian woman in Debaka Debobesa, Ethiopia, March 15, 2012. As part of an effort to deter a seasonal spike of malaria in the region, CAT 4905 delivered 18,000 packs of insecticide-treated bed nets, rope and nails to Ethiopians in Samaro and Debaka Debobesa, March 15 and 16. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sergeant Andrew Caya)
DEBAKA DEBOBESA, Ethiopia (Mar. 15, 2012) -  U.S. Army Specialist Cody Clayton, Civil Affairs Team 4905 civil affairs specialist and a Denton, Texas, native prepares insecticide-treated nets for distribution in Debaka Debobesa, Ethiopia, March 15. CAT 4905 delivered 18,000 packs of insecticide-treated bed nets, rope and nails to Ethiopians in Samaro and Debaka Debobesa, March 15 and 16 as part of an effort to curb an expected spike of malaria in the region. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sergeant Andrew Caya) CJTF-HOA Photo DEBAKA DEBOBESA, Ethiopia (Mar. 15, 2012) - U.S. Army Specialist Cody Clayton, Civil Affairs Team 4905 civil affairs specialist and a Denton, Texas, native prepares insecticide-treated nets for distribution in Debaka Debobesa, Ethiopia, March 15. CAT 4905 delivered 18,000 packs of insecticide-treated bed nets, rope and nails to Ethiopians in Samaro and Debaka Debobesa, March 15 and 16 as part of an effort to curb an expected spike of malaria in the region. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sergeant Andrew Caya)
DEBAKA DEBOBESA, Ethiopia (Mar. 15, 2012) -  A Health Station worker in Debaka Debobesa Ethiopia instructs a group of Ethiopians on the proper use of a mosquito bed net March 15. Tens of thousands insecticide-treated bed nets were delivered by Civil Affairs Team 4905 to Ethiopians in Samaro and Debaka Debobesa, March 15 and 16 as part of an effort to quell seasonal spike of malaria in the region. (U.S. Air Force photo by Technical Sergeant James Brock) CJTF-HOA Photo DEBAKA DEBOBESA, Ethiopia (Mar. 15, 2012) - A Health Station worker in Debaka Debobesa Ethiopia instructs a group of Ethiopians on the proper use of a mosquito bed net March 15. Tens of thousands insecticide-treated bed nets were delivered by Civil Affairs Team 4905 to Ethiopians in Samaro and Debaka Debobesa, March 15 and 16 as part of an effort to quell seasonal spike of malaria in the region. (U.S. Air Force photo by Technical Sergeant James Brock)
SAMARO, Ethiopia (Mar. 16, 2012) -   U.S. Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Chris Smith, U.S. Army Corporal Benjamin Whiddon, and Specialist Cody Clayton unpack mosquito nets at Debaka Debobesa, Ethiopia on 16 March. Smith, Whiddon, and Clayton are all members of Civil Affairs Team 4905 delivered 18,000 bed nets to Ethiopians in Debaka Debobesa, and Samaro, Ethiopia on March 15 and 16 as part of an effort to curb a seasonal spike of malaria in the region. (U.S. Air Force photo by Technical Sergeant James Brock) CJTF-HOA Photo SAMARO, Ethiopia (Mar. 16, 2012) - U.S. Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Chris Smith, U.S. Army Corporal Benjamin Whiddon, and Specialist Cody Clayton unpack mosquito nets at Debaka Debobesa, Ethiopia on 16 March. Smith, Whiddon, and Clayton are all members of Civil Affairs Team 4905 delivered 18,000 bed nets to Ethiopians in Debaka Debobesa, and Samaro, Ethiopia on March 15 and 16 as part of an effort to curb a seasonal spike of malaria in the region. (U.S. Air Force photo by Technical Sergeant James Brock)
SAMARO, Ethiopia (Mar. 16, 2012) - Ethiopians sign up for bed nets in Samaro, Ethiopia on 16 March 2012. As part of an effort to curb an expected spike of malaria in the region, Civil Affairs Team 4905 delivered thousands packs of insecticide-treated bed nets, rope and nails to Ethiopians in Samaro and Debaka Debobesa, March 15 and 16. (U.S. Air Force photo by Technical Sergeant James Brock) CJTF-HOA Photo SAMARO, Ethiopia (Mar. 16, 2012) - Ethiopians sign up for bed nets in Samaro, Ethiopia on 16 March 2012. As part of an effort to curb an expected spike of malaria in the region, Civil Affairs Team 4905 delivered thousands packs of insecticide-treated bed nets, rope and nails to Ethiopians in Samaro and Debaka Debobesa, March 15 and 16. (U.S. Air Force photo by Technical Sergeant James Brock)
DEBAKA DEBOBESA, Ethiopia (Mar. 15, 2012) - An Ethiopian woman signs up for bed nets in Debaka Debobesa, Ethiopia on 15 March 2012. 18,000 packs of insecticide-treated bed nets were delivered to Ethiopians in Samaro and Debaka Debobesa, March 15 and 16 by Civil Affairs Team 4905 as part of an effort to curtail an expected spike of malaria in the region. (U.S. Air Force photo by Technical Sergeant James Brock) CJTF-HOA Photo DEBAKA DEBOBESA, Ethiopia (Mar. 15, 2012) - An Ethiopian woman signs up for bed nets in Debaka Debobesa, Ethiopia on 15 March 2012. 18,000 packs of insecticide-treated bed nets were delivered to Ethiopians in Samaro and Debaka Debobesa, March 15 and 16 by Civil Affairs Team 4905 as part of an effort to curtail an expected spike of malaria in the region. (U.S. Air Force photo by Technical Sergeant James Brock)
DEBAKA DEBOBESA, Ethiopia (Mar. 15, 2012) - U.S. Army Specialist Cody Clayton takes a ticket for a bed net from an Ethiopian woman from Debaka Debobesa, Ethiopia on 15 March. Clayton and members of  Civil Affairs Team 4905 delivered 18,000 packs of insecticide-treated bed nets, rope and nails to Ethiopians in Samaro and Debaka Debobesa, March 15 and 16 as part of an effort to hinder a seasonal spike of malaria in the region. (U.S. Air Force photo by Technical Sergeant James Brock) CJTF-HOA Photo DEBAKA DEBOBESA, Ethiopia (Mar. 15, 2012) - U.S. Army Specialist Cody Clayton takes a ticket for a bed net from an Ethiopian woman from Debaka Debobesa, Ethiopia on 15 March. Clayton and members of Civil Affairs Team 4905 delivered 18,000 packs of insecticide-treated bed nets, rope and nails to Ethiopians in Samaro and Debaka Debobesa, March 15 and 16 as part of an effort to hinder a seasonal spike of malaria in the region. (U.S. Air Force photo by Technical Sergeant James Brock)
DEBAKA DEBOBESA, Ethiopia (Mar. 15, 2012) - U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Melissa McGaughey of Civil Affairs Team 4905 Delivers bed nets to the people of Debaka Debobesa, Ethiopia on 15 March. As part of an effort to quell an expected spike of malaria in the region, Civil Affairs Team 4905 delivered 18,000 packs of insecticide-treated bed nets, rope and nails to Ethiopians in Samaro and Debaka Debobesa. (U.S. Air Force photo by Technical Sergeant James Brock) CJTF-HOA Photo DEBAKA DEBOBESA, Ethiopia (Mar. 15, 2012) - U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Melissa McGaughey of Civil Affairs Team 4905 Delivers bed nets to the people of Debaka Debobesa, Ethiopia on 15 March. As part of an effort to quell an expected spike of malaria in the region, Civil Affairs Team 4905 delivered 18,000 packs of insecticide-treated bed nets, rope and nails to Ethiopians in Samaro and Debaka Debobesa. (U.S. Air Force photo by Technical Sergeant James Brock)
DEBAKA DEBOBESA, Ethiopia (Mar. 15, 2012) -  U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Melissa McGaughey, Civil Affairs Team 4905 team sergeant and native of Fort Woth, Texas hands an insecticide-treated net to an Ethiopian man in Debaka Debobesa, Ethiopia, March 15. As part of an effort to impede an expected spike of malaria in the region,CAT 4905 delivered 18,000 packs of insecticide-treated bed nets, rope and nails to Ethiopians in Samaro and Debaka Debobesa, March 15 and 16. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sergeant Andrew Caya) CJTF-HOA Photo DEBAKA DEBOBESA, Ethiopia (Mar. 15, 2012) - U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Melissa McGaughey, Civil Affairs Team 4905 team sergeant and native of Fort Woth, Texas hands an insecticide-treated net to an Ethiopian man in Debaka Debobesa, Ethiopia, March 15. As part of an effort to impede an expected spike of malaria in the region,CAT 4905 delivered 18,000 packs of insecticide-treated bed nets, rope and nails to Ethiopians in Samaro and Debaka Debobesa, March 15 and 16. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sergeant Andrew Caya)
DEBAKA DEBOBESA, Ethiopia (Mar. 15, 2012) -  An Ethiopian woman smiles as she leaves a health clinic in the Abaya Wordea, Ethiopia, with her insecticide-treated bed nets  March 15.  Civil Affairs Team 4905 delivered 18,000 packs of insecticide-treated bed nets, rope and nails to Ethiopians in Samaro and Debaka Debobesa, March 15 and 16 as part of an effort to limit an expected spike of malaria in the region. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sergeant Andrew Caya) CJTF-HOA Photo DEBAKA DEBOBESA, Ethiopia (Mar. 15, 2012) - An Ethiopian woman smiles as she leaves a health clinic in the Abaya Wordea, Ethiopia, with her insecticide-treated bed nets March 15. Civil Affairs Team 4905 delivered 18,000 packs of insecticide-treated bed nets, rope and nails to Ethiopians in Samaro and Debaka Debobesa, March 15 and 16 as part of an effort to limit an expected spike of malaria in the region. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sergeant Andrew Caya)

Three feet of rope, four nails and a blue net all wrapped inside a plastic bag may not seem like they can save lives. However, these tools - along with the partnership between members of Civil Affairs Team 4905, government and non-government organizations - can impede the spread of malaria in Ethiopia.

CAT 4905, assigned to Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa, distributed 18,000 packs of insecticide-treated bed nets, rope and nails to Ethiopians in Samaro and Debaka, Debobesa, here March 15 and 16.

"We are in the Abaya Wordea, which is one of the most (malaria-infected) regions during this time of year in the country of Ethiopia, so obviously there is a great need to fight malaria in this area," said U.S. Army Corporal Benjamin Whiddon, a Houston, Texas native and CAT 4905 team medic. "One of the primary ways to fight malaria is prevention. One great way to prevent malaria is the use of bed nets, which we are distributing here."

The rainy season causes a mixed reaction among many Ethiopians, said Gobena Guye, local health office worker and malaria prevention coodinator, from Guanga, Ethiopia. Farmers appreciate rain, as it nourishes crops and provides the harvest, but for other Ethiopians, the rain signifies a larger mosquito population near bodies of water, said Guye.

CAT 4905 Team Leader U.S. Army Captain Charles Varner, of Los Angeles, said irregular weather patterns delayed the rains this year. When the rains do come, people in this region expect a "gigantic spike in the cases of malaria," he said.

To quell this spike, members of the 4905 CAT worked with Ethiopians, the U.S. Agency for International Development and the organization Communication for Change to execute Operation: MASH.

"Operation: MASH stands for 'Malaria in Abaya Stops Here.' When you call this a 'bed net distribution,' you are really over-simplifying what we're doing," said U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Melissa McGaughey, CAT 4905 team sergeant of Fort Worth, Texas.

According to Ethiopian government studies, people do have insecticide-treated bed nets, yet they are still contracting malaria.

"The problem is they don't know how to properly employ those nets (or how to avoid the disease)," said McGaughey.

Through additional information on how to recognize malaria symptoms and employ nets in their homes, the Ethiopians are getting more tools they need to slow the malaria epidemic, said McGaughey.

Ethiopian workers provided initial training on malaria prevention at a centralized location. Afterward, the trainees put out the schedule of the training and bed net distribution in their local communities, allowing hundreds of Ethiopians to receive the information and nets.

Empowering Ethiopians to protect themselves against this disease would not be possible without the partnership between the Ethiopian organizations and the Americans, said McGaughey.

Programs, such as the U.S.-funded President's Malaria Initiative, provide bed nets to Ethiopia. However, some of the austere locations have no way of receiving these supplies. This is where the civil affairs team comes in.

"(We transport the nets) the last mile and into the hands of people who really need them," said Varner. "This is something that only CJTF-HOA is able to do in southern Ethiopia."

"Without the non-governmental organization community, we wouldn't have the Communication for Change piece," said McGaughey. "Without the government of Ethiopia, the people wouldn't know we're coming. Without us, the nets would never get there. The partnership is the best take-away from this. We can fully address the problem instead of giving a partial answer."

Ethiopians involved in the program said the training, coupled with distribution, creates a positive outcome for the Ethiopian people.

"I enjoy my work," said Azenegash Haire, a veteran health station worker from Hageramariam, Ethiopia, who trained hundreds of Ethiopians on bed net employment. "I believe it is working and it is effective."

The training and net distribution is fantastic, said Bayissa Urgesa, an Ethiopian Communication for Change community organization manager. With USAID and C-Change working with CJTF-HOA, participation in malaria prevention increased remarkably. "We really are saving lives," he said.

"We have been (in Ethiopia) for eight months," Whiddon said. "We've been looking forward to this for a long time now. It's a very rewarding process, and I am really happy to be a part of it. This is what deployments are all about. Not many people get this opportunity (and) I am very fortunate to be a part of it."

"If we're able to give (the Ethiopians) a means to protect themselves from getting sick, it's a good thing," said U.S. Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Chris Smith CAT 4905 communications non-commissioned officer and native of Dothan, Alabama. "It makes you feel good not just being here, but also (knowing) what your country is doing to help others."

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