Afghan, Coalition Doctors Provide Care to Villagers
By Staff Sgt. Marti Ribeiro, USAF
Special to American Forces Press Service
MEHTAR LAM, Afghanistan, Mar. 30, 2006 Afghan and coalition troops provided medical care to 1,500 people in Laghman and Nuristan provinces in recent operations.
Navy Lt. Cmdr. Kimberly M. Kauffman administers deworming medication to a child in Nangaresh, Afghanistan. Kauffman was part of an Afghan and coalition medical team that provided medical care and sanitation classes to men, women and children in seven villages in Laghman and Nuristan provinces March 19-24. Photo by Staff Sgt. Marti D. Ribeiro, USAF
(Click photo for screen-resolution image)
At seven remote villages, men, women and children received treatment for ailments ranging from headaches to heartburn March 19-24. Children were dewormed; villagers also received vitamins and instruction in sanitation.
Marines assigned to the Mehtar Lam Provincial Reconstruction Team escorted 18 medical professionals, including Afghan and coalition doctors, to the villages.
The medical professionals set up in clinics, schools and fields -- whatever sites were available in each village. Men, women and children were separated and evaluated by a triage team of Army and Air Force medical technicians. Appropriate medications were distributed. If further evaluation was needed, patients were sent to the team's physicians.
"In most cases, the Afghan physician observed the patient and then discussed treatment and medication with the American doctors," said Army Lt. Col. (Dr.) Drew J. Kosmowski, the surgeon for the coalition's Combined Joint Task Force 76. "Sometimes we had to prescribe different medications based on what we brought with us."
The Afghan physicians gave villagers the medications. "We want the villagers to have faith in their own doctors," said Army Staff Sgt. Brian L. Holly, noncommissioned officer in charge of the mission.
The physicians did what they could for more serious ailments, referring some patients to medical facilities as required.
All children, 6 months to 12 years, were dewormed and given vitamins. "Deworming is very important, because worms are common among children here," said Navy Lt. Cmdr. Kimberly M. Kauffman, another member of the medical civic assistance program team. "If worms get into their (gastrointestinal) tract, they will take nutrients from the children, which can cause malnourishment."
After treatment, the patients attended sanitation class. Led by local teachers, health professionals or interpreters, the class included information on diarrhea, malaria and personal hygiene. As a result, even patients with no medical problems gained something from the medical assistance program, Kosmowski said.
Coalition forces had not organized medical assistance visits to these seven villages before. More visits are planned in other villages, including continued participation by Afghan doctors. "We're trying to give people faith and confidence in their national and local governments," Kosmowski said. "We want the Afghan people to know that their government is going to take care of their health."
(Air Force Staff Sgt. Marti Ribeiro is assigned to Combined Joint Task Force 76.)