Afghan Forces Help Meet Civilians' Medical, Veterinary Needs
American Forces Press Service
FORWARD OPERATING BASE SALERNO, Afghanistan, Oct. 28, 2005 Afghan National Army medics teamed up with deployed U.S. military medics and doctors from Bagram Air Base and Forward Operating Base Salerno, and members of the civil affairs team from 2nd Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment, to provide basic medical assistance to four villages in Afghanistan's Khowst province Oct. 24 through 27.
An Afghan National Army medic documents the complaints of an elderly resident of Tere Zayi, Afghanistan, during a Medical Civil Assistance Program visit Oct. 24. Photo by Spc. Laura Griffin, USA
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
The team treated 1,328 Afghan men, 1,022 women, 4,245 children and 577 animals in the villages of Tere Zayi, Jaji Maydan, Gurbuz and Tani.
Services included providing de-worming medication to the residents and animals, and handing out vitamins, anti-inflammatory medication and antibiotics. The troops also provided food and clothing to the local citizens and offered personal-hygiene classes to teach residents about proper hand-washing procedures, food handling and water sanitation. Malaria information was also provided.
"We had a fantastic response that far exceeded our expectations and predictions of local officials," said Army Sgt. Matt Bowman, a platoon sergeant with Task Force White Devil Civil Affairs Team A. "We treated more women than we have before, which is a very positive sign of progress."
One Afghan National Army doctor, one ANA nurse, and six ANA medics treated most of the male patients during the mission. Two Afghan veterinarians treated livestock also.
"This adds credibility to the ANA by countering Taliban propaganda that says the ANA doesn't do anything," said Afghan Maj. Mir Shkaloga, operations officer for the 1st Kandak (battalion). "People see that the ANA is their army because they see us doing good things."
Veterinarians on the mission took blood samples from cattle, goats and sheep to test for brucellosis, a bacterial disease in livestock that is passed through un-pasteurized milk and causes weakness, weight-loss, fever and anorexia.
"There's been no testing for brucellosis in Afghanistan for the past 25 years," Maj. Stephen Goldsmith, a U.S. military veterinarian, said. "The Russians destroyed much of this testing, and the Taliban finished it off by destroying any labs that were left."
The team's findings will be passed on to the minister of agriculture, the U.S. Agency for International Development, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and some non-governmental organizations to come up with a plan to control spread of the disease.
Afghans were making also making progress in veterinary health elsewhere with the Oct. 27 opening of a veterinary clinic in Parwan province.
"This project is extremely important, because livestock is an essential way of life here in Afghanistan," U.S. Army Sgt. Pedro Meza, a Bagram Provincial Reconstruction Team project officer, said. "If the people have the resources to take care of their animals, then livestock can bring life to the economy."
The Bagram PRT and USAID initiated the clinic project. Construction started Jan. 20. The project cost a little more than $143,500 and employed about 40 local Afghan workers for the duration of the construction process.
The clinic's services are available for anyone in the province as well as in the Kapisa province and the Panshir Valley. It offers disease testing, medicines, and other veterinary services.
"This clinic is a long-term solution because it provides money and a livelihood both for the Afghans with livestock and the workers at the clinic," Meza added. "Another advantage is the ability to prevent animal diseases from spreading to humans."
(Compiled from Coalition Forces Command Afghanistan news releases.)