YENDI, Ghana — Medical providers from the U.S. Army 352nd Civil Affairs Command out of Fort Meade, Maryland, and their counterparts from the Ghana Armed Forces partnered together to bring healthcare to local citizens living near Yendi, Ghana, June 3, 2023, as a part of African Lion 2023.
The event is known as a medical civic action program, or MEDCAP, and provides free health screenings and medical treatment to the local population. This program not only provides traditional medical treatment and care, but it also serves as an opportunity for the partnered medical providers to build rapport and cultural awareness with the local community.
“I’m really impressed with the Ghana Armed Forces, specifically their medical team,” said U.S. Army Lt. Col. Glenna Bergland, a public health nurse with the 352nd Civil Affairs Command. “They’ve taken charge, created a plan and built civil-military relationships. The communities were very welcoming to the Ghana Armed Forces.”
Bergland added that the GAF took the lead in the medical mission and the U.S. role was to support by providing medical personnel. She added that this event is beneficial because it helps build strong relationships with the GAF and gives the community members a positive impression of the American military and the GAF.
The rural part of Ghana also benefits because it is an area that is largely underserved.
“The health needs of the [civilians] are of topmost importance. We provide some of the medicines that are so expensive and out of their reach, for free,” said Flight Lt. Camillus Buunaaisie, exercise coordinator with the 6th Infantry Battalion, Ghana Armed Forces. “You can see the joy in their faces.”
The community at-large has benefited from the care, but especially the women and children who have received care not normally afforded to them.
“What I love about this exercise is that it gives women and children, who are vulnerable, free health care,” said Buunaaisie.
One of the major goals of this mission was to provide long term benefits for this segment of the population.
“We are here to help with sanitation, help push vitamins via fruits and vegetables, not necessarily just medication,” said U.S. Army Master Sgt. Bisi Akindele, a public health nurse with the 352nd Civil Affairs Command.
The work could not be done without all the help from the multinational medical team.
“I appreciate the medical professionals who are going the extra mile to sacrifice, to leave the comfort of their cities. They are out here in the sun rendering services in conditions that they have never worked in before,” added Buunaaisie.
The impact on the medical team went beyond just the satisfaction of providing medical support.
“My favorite part about the exercise is the children and the warm welcome from the Ghana Armed Forces,” said Bergland.
African Lion is an annual training event, hosted this year in Ghana, Morocco, Senegal and Tunisia. African Lion 2023 is U.S. Africa Command's largest annual combined, joint exercise spanning multiple countries in Africa from May 13 - June 18, 2023, and consists of approximately 8,000 personnel from 18 nations.