Medical Readiness and Training Exercise 2012

Tuesday January 31, 2012

What is it?

U.S. Army Africa's first Medical Readiness and Training Exercise (MEDRETE) program of 2012, prepares U.S. military ophthalmologists for deployment in austere operating environments while simultaneously increasing host nation ophthalmology capabilities and strengthening our partnership with militaries in Africa. This small military footprint is also designed to make a big impression on the host nation populace.

This exercise takes place in February on the island of Zanzibar in Tanzania. Working closely with the host nation Ministry of Health and military medical providers, a small team of U.S. military medical personnel deploy for two weeks to participate in real-world training, improve working relationships with host nation medical providers, and provide medical services to citizens in need of treatment.

During MEDRETE 12-1, trained U.S. military ophthalmologists and Tanzanian People's Defense Force medical specialists performed a suture-less cataract surgical technique known as ECCE (extracapsular cataract extraction) to help reduce the high incidence of cataract blindness in Tanzania. Patients undergoing ECCE require minimal post-operative care, have a low complication rate. Since the procedure is low-tech, it is inexpensive and affordable throughout the world.

What has the Army done?

Life-changing events became the norm during the last USARAF MEDRETE exercise in Malawi that was conducted in tandem with USARAF's MEDREACH '11 mission. It enhanced Malawian optometry treatment capabilities while strengthening our partnership and humanitarian assistance efforts.

What continued efforts does the Army have planned for the future?

MEDRETE is a regularly scheduled USARAF exercise where small teams of U.S. military medical professionals deploy for two weeks or less to a select area in Africa. The future will see additional MEDRETE exercises in African countries of Burkina Faso and Mauritania.

Why is this important to the Army?

The real benefit of exercises like this is the mutual respect and understanding gained by two professional militaries working side-by-side to build lasting relationships. These relationships will far outlast the short-term benefits of this exercise. This is really a small facet of a wider, long-lasting partnership between our two countries. Most of the United Nations humanitarian and peacekeeping missions in the world are in Africa, so MEDRETE is an example of how USARAF is helping to ensure a more self-sufficient, secure and stable Africa.

Resources:

U.S. Army Africa

U.S. Army Medical Command

U.S. Army Africa News page

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