U.S. Service Members Provide Medical Care in Djibouti
Service members with Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa began executing a series of Medical Civil Action Programs (MEDCAPs) in Djibouti on November 16, 2008. The program will continue on designated Saturdays and Sundays until mid-January, 2009 in rural villages in the Ali Sabieh and Dikil districts of Djibouti.
"Each village is different and each set up is different so the medical needs are different," explained Dr. (Colonel) Lorrie Oldham, senior MEDCAP physician.
The doctor explained that due to lifestyle and diet, the majority of cases treated in MEDCAPs are of a primary care focus, including upper respiratory infections, GI tract distress, conjunctivitis and arthritis.
This MEDCAP team also provided dental care.
"Many of the villagers are dealing with dental infections and ongoing pain from broken down and decayed teeth. In these cases, we are able to perform extractions even with the limitations of working in a field environment." Lieutenant William Anderson, MEDCAP dentist explained.
Anderson said he pulled nearly a dozen teeth that day.
Oldham explained that the goal of MEDCAP is to safely deploy in, render medical care and safely deploy out, while working side by side with host nation physicians, nurses, and force protection.
"Our MEDCAPs establish relationships at the local level and enhance existing relationships between the U.S. and Djiboutian governments as well as strengthening the security of the Djiboutian government and increasing the delivery capacity the Ministry of Health with local leaders and the population," Lieutenant Colonel Earl M. Hairston, MEDCAP Mission Commander explained
The CJTF-HOA mission is to prevent conflict, promote regional cooperation, and protect coalition interests to prevail against extremism.
According to Hairston, the integration of diplomacy, development, and defense efforts is essential to ensuring success.
"We hope through the MEDCAP, Djiboutians will understand that we remain committed to the people of Djibouti and will continue to build on our partnership between our two governments," Hairston said, "and this will cultivate the belief that collaborating with Americans leads to increased prosperity and security."