Africa Partnership Station Brings Veterinary Care to Liberia
By Petty Officer 1st Class Brian A. Goyak, USN
Special to American Forces Press Service
MONROVIA, Liberia , March 26, 2008 Members of the Army’s 64th Medical Battalion and volunteers with “Project Hope” administered rabies vaccinations to the local pet population here over the past few days. The Africa Partnership Station facilitated the visits.
Army Capt. Brian Smith, a veterinarian with 64th Medical Battalion administers a dose of de-worming medication to one of nine puppies in a litter. Photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Brian A. Goyak, USN
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
On March 24 and yesterday, Army Capt. Brian Smith and Pvt. Valerie McCants, with the help of Marley Gevanthor, an emergency room nurse from San Francisco General Hospital volunteering with Project Hope, administered a combination vaccine to dogs, cats and a host of other animals belonging to locals.
Project Hope is a nongovernment organization working in conjunction with the Africa Partnership Station to bring medical supplies and services to those in need in West and Central African countries.
“This project will only cover a small percentage of the population due to the limited number of doses. We are working with the Ministry of Agriculture and Health to arrange funding and assistance to broaden the rabies program here to allow for wider coverage of animals that will receive the rabies vaccine,” Smith said.
Rabies is nearly always fatal, and humans can catch the disease from contact with infected animals. In addition to protecting against rabies, the vaccine also protects the animals from several other viruses. The pets also were de-wormed to kill parasites that can be transferred to humans.
“It’s wonderful to be able to take my skills and use them in a different discipline,” Gevanthor said. “They’re all little patients, and we’re helping to keep them healthy.”
The team is here in conjunction with West Africa Training Cruise 08, an exercise being held March 17 to April 5 in concert with an ongoing African Partnership Station deployment. The exercise is focused on delivering humanitarian assistance supplies to various clinics and schools here from a sea-based command.
By the end of the first day, the trio had administered 100 doses of the vaccine.
“I wish I could do more. Liberia has a large need, especially with rabies,” Smith added. “Rabies is very prevalent in the dog population here, and I’m glad that I’m able to do a little bit to help. Hopefully I can arrange to do more in the future.”
The Africa Partnership Station is a U.S. Naval Forces Europe-led initiative executed by a multinational staff aboard the amphibious dock landing ship USS Fort McHenry and High Speed Vessel Swift. Part of the U.S. Navy’s Global Fleet Station, the Africa Partnership Station provides a platform to support training and collaboration on a regional scale to maritime partners in West and Central Africa. Task Force 365 and training teams from various U.S. and European military commands, as well as governmental and nongovernmental organizations, are embarked here on board the USS Fort McHenry to enhance cooperative partnerships.
(Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Brian A. Goyak is assigned to Africa Partnership Station Public Affairs.)