In the last week of March and the first week of April 2011 a Medical Brigade Team comprised of members of the United States Army provided free health clinics to rural areas in the north. The free health clinic attracted Orange Walkenos by the hundreds and by the time the team of forty was ready to leave they had seen more than 5000 patients. Today another medical team is back offering free medical services to villagers of Santa Martha and San Roman Rio Hondo. The team arrived in Belize on May 2nd and yesterday they headed to Santa Martha where they saw more than 300 patients and today as we visited them in San Roman Rio Hondo they were hard at work.
Carmelita Perez- Reporting
The U.S Military team comprised of 20 members including four doctors hail from the Sotocano Airbase located in Honduras. The team arrived in Belize on May 2nd and since then they have been hard at work tending to young and old suffering from all types of ailments.
In contrary to the team that was in Belize a few weeks ago medics were only offering their services in general medicine. But despite that there were no dentist or ophthalmologist; patients came out in numbers and waited patiently for their turn to see the doctors and even the U.S Ambassador to Belize H.E Vinai Thummalapally paid the team a visit.
First patients were given a preventative medicine class where they were taught how to care of themselves, what type of food they should eat and were even given vitamins and de-worming medicine. The patients then went through a screening test conducted by members of the Ministry of Health after which they were referred to one of the doctors.
Nora Shby- Operations Officer Medical Facility Sotocano Airbase
“We only have general medicine today; we have a house nation provider from Belize, we have military providers that are seeing this patience and we have some translators from this school here some teachers that are sustaining with translators when needed. Currently we have seen about six hundred people when we combine both villages, so that’s quite a lot. That is quite a bit and our intension to come here to Santa Marta and San Roman is to see everyone to come and visit us so, we will not leave until we see everyone that requires some attention or some care, some vitamins.”
Cliff Sauder was in charge of getting all the personal information from the patients. What they are suffering from and what type of medication they have been taking were just some of the questions that patients needed to answer.
Cliff Sauder- Physician Assistant
“We are kind of a small medical set up so, somewhat limited on what we can do but generally the way that things would go the patience would come in and present the concerns they would have today and then sometime we can help on getting a definite answer as to what’s wrong and often times the benefit is that we are able to identify things that are or could go very bad in the long term and identify them early on so that down the road they don’t have any problems. Like yesterday we saw a young boy who he has a small hernia in his stomach that, right now is not a problem but long term is possible that it would become much worst and could pinch out his stomach or his valves and cause him serious injuries so, in here generally the patience present his concern and we talk about them kind of get the details, examine them as best as we can and then if we have some medicines that we can use to help to treat them and to provide some care, we do these things here.”
Residents suffering from a typical cough or some other type of common illness are the ones who took advantage of the free medical health clinic.
Cliff Sauder- Physician Assistant
“Mostly it’s very similar to what we see in America, its orthopaedic concerns, joint pain, back pain, neck pain, abdominal pain things like that, colds ,cough, running nose, allergies things like that which is in America is the exact things we see, the only difference between here and there is that in America people are getting seen almost immediately as soon as the concern comes up where here it may have been going on for months before they have even get seen so, I think that’s where the benefits comes in and that’s the difference between here and there, but it is mainly a lot of the same things you would see otherwise. There are few things where kind of things you wouldn’t expect to see but a lot less of what I expected it to be.”
According to the U.S Ambassador to Belize, despite the fact that the U.S is going through budget cuts more Medical Teams are expected to arrive in Belize.
H.E Vinai Thummalapally- United States Ambassador to Belize
“We would be doing at least one possibly two , as we did two this year, we would probably keep this up as you know there are some cuts, budget cuts that are going on now we will plan for next year or two. Belize is not an exception United States is also is experiencing some cuts, but this not an area where am going to recommend the cuts in terms as we go forward because the value for money spent is tremendous to see the families , to see young children get help, to see mother and father and families receive basic medical assistance, again we are augmenting the ministry of health efforts here they are working diligently in addressing these needs here in Belize. We feel that this will be an ongoing effort.
I do not know the specifics of this year and next year but we will be working closely with the ministry of health and the ministry of education as well because they do such a nice job in helping to facilitate their school , there classes, teacher act as translator so, it is tremendous joint effort that we see that is in this type of good outcome.”
During the clinic patients were also provided with free medication. The Medical Team will fly back to Honduras tomorrow.