Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Delivering Medical Care in Taroudant,Morocco

Here is an article coming out of the US Military's 24 hour media machine to keep us in touch with some of what they are doing in the world. It seems like this is an effort to "win hearts and minds" of Moroccans with some much needed humanitarian care, similar to what missionaries do. Take from the article what you will.


AL Delivers Medical Care to Moroccan Citizens, Livestock

U.S. Marine Corps Forces Europe Public Affairs RSS

Story by Master Sgt. Grady Fontana
Date: 05.12.2009
Posted: 05.12.2009 12:42

TAROUDANT, Morocco - More than 600 Moroccans from here and surrounding villages converged for humanitarian assistance being offered by U.S. and Moroccan service members participating in Exercise AFRICAN LION 2009.

Thirty eight U.S. and 46 Moroccan military personnel, and nine civilian medical professionals provided medical, dental and veterinarian care to all who showed up.

The majority of U.S. service members were from the Utah National Guard, state partner to Morocco under the National Guard State Partnership Program, although, care was also provided by 4th Dental Battalion, 4th Marine Logistics Group. This humanitarian assistance is just one of five being conducted in different communities throughout Morocco and runs concurrent with the bilateral military training.

The medical and dental care was conducted at the Omar El Khayam primary school, as classrooms were converted to patient rooms and hallways into waiting rooms. The school entrance was plastered with people waiting for a chance to receive medical or dental services.

"We have specialists from several fields here including gynecology, cardiology, internal medicine, emergency medicine, pediatrics and ophthalmology," said Army Col. Peter P. Taillac, physician, Utah Medical Command, Utah Army National Guard. "So we're seeing a broad spectrum of cases."

Hundreds of Moroccans, mostly women and children, waited long lines for a chance to see a doctor or dentist. Once they reached the front desk, they were triaged to the appropriate specialty.

For most, they don't have access to regular medical care. Some have chronic medical problems, yet have never been treated before or have received intermittent treatment in the past and now their ailment have become advanced, according to Taillac, a native of Salt Lake City.

So, along with U.S. and Moroccan service members, some local community physicians were part of the staff who were providing medical care. These physicians plan to follow up on those who many need follow-on treatment.

"We have a chance to see them and provide some medical advice and initial medical treatment that will be followed up by community physicians," said Taillac.

In the school library, U.S. and Moroccan military dentist established a dental exam room and provided tooth extractions and restorative care.

"So far, we've seen mostly children and adults with moderate to severe cavities," said Army Maj. David J. Coates, a dentist with Utah Army National Guard. "Not much different than any population in the world who doesn't have access to dental care."

According to Coates, a native of South Jordan, Utah, his staff is matched one for one by the Moroccan staff. This allows for bi-lateral training and increases interoperability.

Additionally, for the first time in AFRICAN LION, the U.S. and Moroccan service members incorporated veterinarian services. More than 400 sheep, goats and horses were treated with medication at a location about just outside of the school.

"The animals are getting de-worm medication, vitamins, and anti-bacteria medication," said Army Staff Sgt. Kyle D. Gaerte, Utah National Guard. The treatment helps prevent internal and bacterial parasites, and the flu, a respiratory virus.

The U.S. and Moroccan militaries decided to include the veterinarian care because they knew that for a lot of Moroccans, their animals are their livelihood. Helping their animals helps Moroccans achieve a better quality of life.

"The animals, in a lot of cases, are their [Moroccans] main source of income," said Gaerte, a native of Woods Cross, Utah. "If they don't keep them healthy, there's no way they can make a living for their families."

This humanitarian assistance is just one of five being conducted in different communities throughout Morocco and runs concurrent with the bilateral military training between U.S. and Morocco.

"I really enjoy the opportunity to meet the Moroccan people up close like this," said Taillac. "It's our mission in Utah to interface regularly with Moroccan people, being our partner-in-peace country. It's a country that we anticipate building a long term relationship with over the years, and we will continue coming back [for AFRICAN LION]."

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