Medical Civil Action Program grows with advanced support ;

10 Jul 2003 | Sgt. Bradly Shaver

Service members from Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa, along with a Djiboutian doctor and German dentist, treated a record 394 patients at a Medical Civil Action Program held in Damerjog, July 5.

In the last five MEDCAPs conducted in Djibouti, more than 900 patients have been helped.  The MEDCAP was held at the village's recently refurbished medical clinic and more than doubled the number of villagers treated during the two previous MEDCAPs held at the clinic in February and March.

"Everything is running smoothly, we have many assets here today that we did not have in the previous MEDCAPs," said Army Maj. Jean Fleurantin, MEDCAP coordinator with the 478th Civil Affairs Battalion.

"We have an OBGYN (obstetrics and gynecology) Djiboutian doctor, and we have a German dentist, which both make for valuable assets," he said.  "We also have more doctors and much better equipment, especially for the maternity patients."

Working at the MEDCAPs for free, Dr. Fatouma Iman, an OBGYN from Dar El Hanan, says she's here to help her people.

"The people here are very poor, so it is needed that I come and help out," she said. "With my profession, I travel many places in the area to see all who I can. Even a little help is better than none, and I try to do anything I can."

Being an OBGYN physician, Iman and the four assistants who travel with her, can examine anyone but try to look over the women first who are pregnant.

"I try to come here once a week and examine those who need it most," she said. "Many of the people here do not know what is wrong with them, they just hurt. I look over them and help decide what they need to do."

Patients who are examined at the MEDCAP are generally given a multi-vitamin, water and food to take with them. Many are also given toothbrushes, toothpaste and told how to maintain proper hygiene.

"The German dentist was eager to get out here and participate in the MEDCAPs," said Army Capt. James McGinnis, physician assistant. "Because of him, we'll be able to provide more service to our patients than in the last MEDCAP."

German Lt. Cmdr. Mirco Jogschies, a dentist from the German supply ship Donau, feels his time at the medical programs is always helpful to the needy children and older people. The operations keep getting better each time.

Following every MEDCAP, the medial staff goes through an after action report, to see how they can improve their abilities for the next one.

Fleurantin mentioned one of their missions here is to make sure his medical staff gives the patients full attention, thus building a stable friendship between the military and the surrounding communities.

Fortifying relationships with locals help CJTF-HOA accomplish its mission of detecting and disrupting terrorist acts, said Fleurantin.

"If anything is wrong inside the local villages, the people we help will inform us, and we can put a stop to anything bad before it happens," he said.  "We want to understand them, and we want them to understand us. We need to keep that communication (bond) between us."

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