AFP, Local Government and JSOTF-P Treat 450 Patients at Medical and Dental Project
By Lt.j.g. Theresa Donnelly, Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines Public AffairsFebruary 18, 2010
JOLO, Philippines- Sulu Integrated Provincial Health Office (IPHO), the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Joint Task Force Comet and the Joint Special Operation Task Force-Philippines teamed up with staff from Notre Dame of Jolo College to hold a Medical and Dental Civic Action Project in Jolo municipality Feb. 16.
The one-day event treated more than 450 residents of the Bajau community, an indigenous ethnic group and underserved population living in the Barangays (communities) of Bus Bus and Takut Takut. As medical services are rare in these areas, the opportunity to provide treatment to their children was appreciated by many of the residents who attended.
"I came here today to receive medication for my children. My twins have had terrible coughs and fever, and I had nothing to give them but now they can become healthy. We are so happy to be here and I hope this event happens again," said Dinen Nursan, a local villager.
Many organizations came together to make this day a reality. As part of the college's "Community Extension Service Day," the event signified the dedication the people of Jolo have to helping others in need.
Throughout the day, residents received check-ups, antibiotics and hygiene products. A Philippines-based dental company also assisted with the efforts by donating more than 300 toothbrushes and toothpastes to celebrate "Oral Health Awareness Month." IPHO officials also passed out the supplies, along with performing free dental health screenings.
Representatives from JTF Comet's Jolo Internal Defense Force, Marine Battalion Landing Team-Six (MBLT-6), staff of the university and the Sulu IPHO worked closely together making sure the community was served through this project.
Additionally, 16 AFP Nurses from Camp Asturias in Jolo municipality treated patients for minor ailments and passed out medications.
Civil affairs representatives from JSOTF-P from Civil Affairs Team 715 from the 97th Civil Affairs Battalion, Alpha Company headquarters in Fort Bragg, N.C. also attended the MEDCAP, and brought donated medications, helping with some elements of the project.
However, U.S. Army Capt. Daniel Mayeda, Task Force Sulu civil affairs planner, was quick to point out that although JSOTF-P was there to help, it was the AFP, school and government officials who deserve the credit for planning and executing the event.
"This was a real joint effort between the AFP and the local officials here. It is great to see the citizens of Sulu come together to plan these events. We may have provided a little assistance, but they really took the lead in making this day happen," said Mayeda.
Notre Dame College also played a large role in the medical mission, with nursing students registering patients, criminology undergraduates who helped pass out eight large sacks of donated clothes from MBLT-6, and the college staff who attended, showing their support in giving the Bajau people medical care.
"The event today was very important to us. As medical check-ups are very expensive, we were able to give this care to the people for free. Additionally, we are giving training to our nursing students who are learning how to take blood pressure and other vital signs," said Precilla D. Chang, college director for community extension services.