Through Health: CJTF-HOA
MedCAP Makes Impact
(CJTF-HOA) — If two-year-old Ebtisam Salim could have talked,
she would have complained of having had diarrhea
and a fever for almost two
weeks. But she was nearly unconscious when she arrived at the Sahab Clinic
in Bani Mamoon, here, suffering from extreme hydration and a temperature
just one of hundreds of people who received medical treatment
during a Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa Medical
Civil Action Plan event in Amran, an area of Yemen just north
of Sana’a. During the MedCAP, doctors and civil affairs team
medics from CJTF-HOA teamed up with local practitioners and
Yemeni Ministry of Health officials to offer free treatment
and prescriptions at clinics in Bani Mamoon, Thula and Hababa.
were providing basic treatment, but it was still critical because
we were often able to identify possible future problems and
help," said Army Sgt. 1st Class Victor Perales, a medic
with F company, 96th Civil Affairs. "This is a large part
of CJTF-HOA’s mission in that it helps stabilize the region."
an excellent system of clinics but has trouble keeping up with
the volume of need in the area, said Levi Shearer, the medic
from Civil Affairs Team-A 611. Only four doctors are available
to provide care for a population of more than 14,000. Many
who came for assistance had already been seen by a local doctor
but could not afford the necessary treatments or medications.
Salim’s case was an example of this, said Shearer. Her medical
problems, even though life threatening, might have been fixed
with over-the-counter medications.
family could have forced something with electrolytes," said
Shearer as an example, "but even if they could find something
like a sports drink, they most likely couldn’t afford it. I’m
glad I can help. It’s all part of the job."
Each of the
more than 1,300 people who saw a doctor received multivitamins,
anti-parasite medication and oral hygiene items as did an additional
600 who received grab bags of the same items outside the gates
at the end of each day. Additionally, prescriptions for everything
from painkillers to antibiotics were filled free of charge.
are so many people who need help," said Army Staff Sgt.
Andrew Ciotti, a medic with the 404th Civil Affairs Battalion
Civic Action Team. "You can only do so much, and you always
end up wondering if you could have done more. I just wanted
to fill as many prescriptions as we had people who saw doctors,
and we were able to do that."
the second MedCAP conducted in Yemen, and it is part of a larger
humanitarian aid effort being conducted by CJTF-HOA at the
request of the Yemeni government. Local and national government
leaders invite CATs into various areas to nominate projects
which range from MedCAPs and VetCAPs to school and hospital
renovations, said Billy Wilkins, team leader, CAT-A 611.
are exactly the kinds of projects we’re most capable of doing," Wilkins
said. "As a civil affairs organization, it’s what we’re
designed to do, to help better our relations with the Yemeni
Many of the
team members had the chance to gain personal friendships as
well, not only with the people they treated, but also with
the Yemeni translators and doctors they worked alongside, said
Maj. Jim Riche, civil affairs veterinarian, 404th CAB and commander
for the MedCAP. Working together gave everyone the chance to
learn about each other’s cultures, as well as the chance to
grow personally and professionally through helping others.
with the kids is very rewarding, especially when you have a
kid of your own … it’s like they all become your own," said
Army Capt. Anthony Evanego, Civil Affairs Officer, 404th CAB. "At
the end of the day, it felt very good knowing what we did.
I was able to help a few individuals, but more than that, we
did a lot for the relationship between the U.S. and Yemen."
At the end
of the day, Salim’s temperature came back down to normal, and
a much happier and healthier looking girl left the clinic.
Shearer warned her mother that the young girl could become
sick again, but gave her antibiotic and other medicines to
help keep her strong enough to recover.
like this, he said, which will eventually win the War Against
can hand out soccer balls and gifts all day," he said, "but
if you can provide for their health and improve their quality
of life, you’ll make a huge impact."