Sailors, Cambodians work together, provide medical aid in Pursa

This article was cross-posted from Okinawa Marine

Lance Cpl. Stefanie C. Pupkiewicz PURSAT PROVINCE, Cambodia (May 22, 2009)

Cambodian Medical personnel with 3rd Medical Battalion, 3rd Marine Logistics Group, III Marine Expeditionary Force, stand with members of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces and nongovernmental organizations during the opening ceremony of the Cambodian Interoperability Program May 11 at a Buddhist temple in Pursat Province, Cambodia. Photo by Lance Cpl. Stefanie C. Pupkiewicz.

U.S. Navy medical personnel from 3rd Medical Battalion, 3rd Marine Logistics Group, III Marine Expeditionary Force, here, participated in Cambodian Interoperability Program 2009, a medical and dental capabilities exercise which started May 11.

The program, which began in 2007 as a combined medical exercise between U.S. and Cambodian forces, is designed to increase the interaction and ability of both forces in responding to a humanitarian crisis. For this year's exercise, an estimated 10,000 people received medical and dental assistance.

An opening ceremony was held May 11 at Wat Bakan, a Buddhist temple, here. Hundreds of people assembled outside the temple where medical and dental services were administered by 3rd Med. Bn. sailors, the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces and local nongovernmental organizations.

"This combined medical exercise is designed to keep the sailors combat ready and to coordinate with the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces to treat the people of Pursat Province," said Maj. John Cherry, the Cambodian foreign affairs officer for the III MEF.

The Cambodian Interoperability Program is in its third year now and the coordination with the local nongovernmental organizations and the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces continues to get better, according to Cherry.

"That improvement increases the efficiency in which patients are treated," he said.

According to Navy Lt. j.g. Randy Gire, a logistics officer and officer in charge of the Cambodia Interoperability Program for 3rd Med. Bn., out of the thousands of people seen, 20 percent of the patients treated will have a lifelong change in their quality of life.

Petty Officer 3rd Class Bunthoeun Ham, the Khmer translator for 3rd Med. Bn., spoke to a woman who had received glasses for the first time in her life during last year's program. She was so thankful to finally be able to see her kids run around and play, she said. Her vision was so poor before that she could not see where they were.

Many who came for treatment normally make their own medicine from tree bark or wild plants, Ham added.

They do not have the opportunity to see doctors when they get ill which can cause their ailments to become more complicated, Ham said. This Medical Civil Action Program may be a patients' first opportunity to receive real medicine and treatment.

While U.S. Forces and Royal Cambodian Armed Forces along with the nongovernmental organizations in Cambodia remain focused on the upcoming exercise, the true beneficiaries of the Cambodia Interoperability Program are the people of Pursat Province who, along with their gratitude, will forever be influenced.

No comments:

Post a Comment