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Excess Meds Transform from Trash to Treasure

By Spc. Kelly Hunt, USA
Special to American Forces Press Service

BAGRAM, Afghanistan, Oct. 24, 2003 – An excess of coalition medical supplies and medications supplemented a shortage faced by Afghan hospitals and clinics Oct. 21, as American troops here delivered nearly $100,000 worth of medical supplies to local hospitals.

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Army Staff Sgt. Kirk Hill, left, and Army 2nd Lt. Quentin Lightbourn, Coalition Joint Civil-Military Operations Task Force, unload medical supplies for the regional hospital in Charikar, Afghanistan, Oct. 21. Army photo by Spc. Kelly Hunt

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The excess supplies normally would be discarded, but the need for the same supplies in neighboring communities was recognized just in time, giving true meaning to the saying, "One man's trash is another man's treasure," officials said.

"We found access expendable supplies and medications that we didn't need for the hospital (or) for any of our maneuver elements," said Col. (Dr.) Dalton Diamond, Combined Joint Civil-Military Operations Task Force surgeon, explaining how the idea for this humanitarian aid mission began. "This is the first time that we've (donated) excess medical supplies."

Injectable antibiotics, sterile surgical gloves, syringes and bandages were among the supplies donated to the hospitals. All are items Afghan hospital and clinic personnel have a hard time acquiring.

"I visited a couple of their clinics where their dressing rooms had nothing, (and) I didn't want to let this material go to waste," said Diamond. "The (supplies) that we take for granted, Band-Aids and things like that, they just don't have."

The humanitarian aid was donated to the provincial hospital in Kapisa and the regional hospital in Charikar, and will be disseminated from there to other area hospitals and clinics soon, said Staff Sgt. Todd Hartjen, Parwan Province Civil Affairs Team A, 407th Civil Affairs Battalion.

"It'll have nothing but a positive affect," he said about the donation. "Around the area they have short supply. It's either feast or famine, and most of the time it's famine."

The donations made to the provincial hospital in Kapisa are scheduled to reach more than 12 clinics in the area, and supplies given to the regional hospital in Charikar are expected to provide aid to 12 other clinics, said Hartjen.

"They were very excited," he said. "They already get supplies from some of the NGOs (nongovernment organizations), but it's sporadic.

"It's nice to lend out a helping hand to the area with the limited supplies," said Hartjen. "To me it's very exciting, because this helps out the infrastructure of the country (and) is one of the things that they are lacking. So to be able to help out this way is tremendous.

"It's nice to say that we've added our piece to (this mission)," said Hartjen. "It's one of the best things we've been able to accomplish in just one day's time."

(Army Spc. Kelly Hunt is assigned to the 4th Public Affairs Detachment.)

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Click photo for screen-resolution imageArmy Spc. David Martinez from the surgeon cell of the Coalition Joint Civil-Military Operations Task Force distributes medical supplies to staff members of the provincial hospital in Kapisa, Afghanistan, Oct. 21. Army photo by Spc. Kelly Hunt  
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