Saturday, January 24, 2009

Good News from Iraq: 24 Jan 2009

From MNF-I, Medical Assistance Solidifies Relationships.

WALID — Shaykh Sa’ad, Walid tribe leader in Anbar province, sponsored a Coalition forces medical assistance visit for the citizens here and the nearby Palestinian camp, Jan. 16.

“The 179 patients we saw during this visit ranged from newborn to geriatrics,” said a Coalition forces member. “It’s rewarding to do visits like these; they help provide a valuable service to the community as well as solidify the positive relationships we’ve established in this region.”

Visits like these provide access to basic health care. With no functioning medical facility in the village, the Coalition forces converted several rooms of an available school into examination rooms.

Some concerns were easy to address, such as how and when certain medicines should be taken, progress checks on recovery, treatment effectiveness and recommendations for the best way to treat symptoms indicative of the cold-and-flu season.

“Typically you see a lot of the same things – muscle skeletal injuries, cold-like symptoms, et cetera,” said the civil affairs noncommissioned officer who has participated in about 20 medical visits to areas in Iraq and Afghanistan. “I’m glad we were able to provide services that were inaccessible to these members of the Iraqi population.

“By helping the community stay healthier, the medical assistance visit enables them to further reconstruction efforts and maintain the safety and security of their community,” said the civil affairs NCO.

An example of this was in response to a request from a desperate father at the Palestinian camp, struggling to get a referral for specialized care for his son.

“Every month or month and a half we have doctor come; he see other children, they go to hospital for surgery, treatment,” said the father of an 8-year-old boy with bladder exstrophy (a malformation where a child is born with the bladder on the outside of the lower abdomen). “My boy, Mo’amen, not get to see doctor yet; he not get chance to go to hospital, to be better. Can you write me something so he see doctor too? Maybe go hospital. Maybe be better.”

The Coalition forces team answered his plea to the best of their ability by cleaning and bandaging the site. The father was given supplies to keep the site as clean as possible and to help alleviate some of Mo’amen’s pain and discomfort. The father also received a referral annotating to the camp’s doctor that Mo’amen needs further medical attention and surgery.

“By being here and doing work like this, you are reminded of our common humanity and you hope that what we’re doing here makes a difference. If nothing else, it offers hope,” said a member of the Coalition forces team who has participated in four MedAvs prior to this one. “Seeing the kids is especially sobering; they are just beautiful and remind me of my own children.”

Medical assistance visits help protect the future of these children and their parents by bridging a gap and meeting a need. The forward-thinking nature of these visits aim to arm Iraqis with the basic know-how to treat their own citizens with national support.

“Medicines and treatments are obtained through the United Nations clinic in the local Palestinian camp to treat common medical complaints,” said the Coalition forces spokesperson.

“Government of Iraq assistance could lead to first-responder capability among the local IPs and up to paramedic-level providers to treat common illnesses and minimize the impact of medical trauma injuries on the village infrastructure.”

A steady flow of patients for more than three hours were helped during this medical assistance visit; 81 children, 59 women and 39 men all received care. It was a team effort, evidenced by the commitment of the Iraqis and Coalition forces to bring their skill and expertise to the people of Walid.