CJTF-HOA conducts third MEDCAP

6 May 2003 | Cpl. Paula M. Fitzgerald

Fourteen medical care providers supporting Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa provided medical assistance May 3 to local civilians during a Medical Civil Action Program (MEDCAP) at the clinic here.

Nearly 130 men, women and children were treated for disorders ranging from cysts to bronchitis.

Maj. Gen. John F. Sattler, the commander of CJTF-HOA, visited the clinic during the MEDCAP to see how things were progressing.

Although the focus of CJTF-HOA is on the Global War on Terrorism, a key element of the task force's mission lies in making a positive difference in the lives of the people in the region as well as a difference in their environment.

"If you look around and see all the people here today, you'll see that they're volunteers from the Army, the Air Force and the Navy who wanted to give their hearts and create a positive impact on the Djiboutian people," Sattler said. "Our mission is to eradicate transnational terrorism in the Horn of Africa, but we also are here to assist the host nation in improving its citizens' quality of life."

In addition to Sattler's visit, Brig. Gen. Zakaria Cheik Ibrahim, the deputy chief of Djiboutian armed forces, also attended to thank the medical personnel for what they were doing for the people of Dorale.

During the MEDCAP, patients were given a physical exam, and translators explained to the medical personnel the symptoms each person was experiencing. After being treated, the villagers were given food and water.

The number of villagers seen during this MEDCAP exceeded the numbers treated during other MEDCAPs.

Lt. Cmdr. Patty Miller, physician assistant, said, "We planned to see only 100 people, but those people brought others with them and asked us to look at them, as well."

This MEDCAP was the third such venture for CJTF-HOA medical personnel in Djibouti. The two previous MEDCAP clinics were conducted at the village of Damerdjog.

"The only real differences between this MEDCAP and the past two are the location and the amount of coordination we had," said Navy Capt. Kenneth E. Leonard, the group's officer-in-charge and Navy Emergency Medical/Surgical Team general surgeon. "It was sort of like coordinating for a football game."

In the weeks leading up to the MEDCAP, Leonard, his team and soldiers from Civil Affairs conducted meetings with the village's medical staff to better understand what to expect.

Leonard explained, "We were able to prepare for the ailments we would be treating, meaning we knew what medicines and equipment we needed to bring with us."

The essential supplies were bought in Djibouti City, vice being shipped from the United States, in an effort to inject needed funds into the country's economy.

"Nearly $19,000 worth of medicine and equipment was purchased out in town in order to supply us with enough to last at least two MEDCAPs," Miller of Kenosha, Wis., stated.

All of the medical paraphernalia that was not used by the Americans was donated to Houssén Farah Said, the village's resident medical care provider.

"My staff and I see patients everyday except Fridays and holidays from (7 a.m. to 1 p.m.)," commented Said. "Normally, we treat anywhere between 30 to 40 people a day."

He said he sees ailments ranging from broken bones to fatal diseases like tuberculosis and malaria.

Said went on to say, "With our capabilities, we are limited to performing only minor surgery for things like cysts. If a patient comes in with an emergency, I refer them to the hospital in Djibouti City. I usually have to drive them in my own car since most people don't have vehicles."

According to Said, the visit from the Americans was special for the people of Dorale.

"This is the first time any foreign doctors have come to see the people here. We are very appreciative for their help and their donation of supplies," said Said. "It shows the people that others care about them and want to help. Hopefully, we will be able to do something like this in the future."
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