U.S. Military, Djiboutians Partner in Medical Program
U.S. Army Civil Affairs Functional Specialty team 353 collaborated with the Djiboutian Ministry of Health to provide medical, optical and dental treatment to the people of Tadjoura, Djibouti, June 2, 2010.
The Medical Civic Action Program, or MEDCAP, is the first time the U.S. military has held this type of clinic in the Tadjoura region of Djibouti. The team consisted of 14 people, including two doctors, two general medics, two veterinarians and two veterinarian technicians.
There were also members from the Djiboutian Ministry of Health: an optometrist, a dentist, a general practitioner, a pediatrician and a gynecologist. Air Force members deployed from bases in Germany and the United Kingdom to participate in the program.
They worked with the Djiboutian Ministry of Defense as well as the Embassy and U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), said U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel Theresa MercadoSconzo, commander of the civil affairs team. "This is providing training the Air Force members don't have in the United States so they are learning as well as treating," MercadoSconzo said. "We work with the local country but we're also providing the soldiers' training as well."
The partnership works best, she said, if a medical issue is identified that needs follow-up. The Djiboutian doctors can make sure that need is met.
Approximately 800 patients were treated during the medical civic action program. "We primarily saw a lot of people requiring sunglasses and glasses to fix their vision," Said U.S. Army Sergeant 1st Class John Ketteman, MEDCAP noncommissioned officer in charge. "There were a lot of minor colds; we were able to treat the vast majority of patients on-site."
It was nice to work collaboratively with the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Defense and the Djiboutian military, Ketteman said. "We were able to learn about each other's medical support capabilities."
"The intent is for Africans to help Africans. There were Djiboutian doctors on site," Ketterman said. "The twist was that we were actually there to assist them in assuring the MEDCAP success."