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NEWS | June 3, 2008

Troops provide medical care to Iraqis

By Spc. Karla Maciel , 11th Public Affairs Detachment

The mother of six-year-old Hannah places her in the brand new wheelchair they received during the Medical Civil Action Program in Avgahni of the Ninewah province, May 26. U.S. Army Capt. David 'Doc' Adam, a flight surgeon, received a donation of wheelchairs from the organization Wheelchairs for Iraq.
The mother of six-year-old Hannah places her in the brand new wheelchair they received during the Medical Civil Action Program in Avgahni of the Ninewah province, May 26. U.S. Army Capt. David ‘Doc’ Adam, a flight surgeon, received a donation of wheelchairs from the organization Wheelchairs for Iraq.

AVGAHNI, Iraq (June 2, 2008) - For the past couple of years, the main mission for coalition forces has been to win the hearts and minds of the Iraqi population in order to better assist them in bringing peace and stability to their country.

On May 26, more than 20 U.S. Army Soldiers from Forward Operating Base Sykes, in the field of medicine, teamed up with Iraqi army’s 2nd Battalion, 10th Brigade, 3rd Division medics and headed for Avgahni, a small village in the Ninewah Province, to support the local doctors during the Medical Civil Action Program.

One coalition force doctor believes that by providing the Iraqi population with quality care, the Iraqi people will see the CF as here to assist them.

“Our job (as doctors and medics) is to practice good medicine, gain intelligence and win the hearts and minds (of the local Iraqi citizens),” said Capt. David “Doc” Adam, a flight surgeon with 4th Squadron, 6th Air Cavalry out of Fort Lewis, Wash.

By the time the convoy of medics drove into the small village, a lengthy line of patients was already waiting for them alongside the main street.

Before any patient was seen by a doctor or medic, they were thoroughly searched to ensure that they didn’t carry anything that would cause a threat to anyone who was inside the clinic.

Throughout the day, Avgahni residents came in to the small building in the hope that medication available could help with their health issues. Although the clinic was limited in medications, most patients left with medicine that could help them. In addition to their medications, every adult received a toothbrush, and every child was given a bottle of vitamins, a toothbrush and a toy.

Side by side, IA medics and CF medics saw more than 300 patients and treated everything from a fractured arm to a bad case of eczema.

The IA medics took the lead throughout the day in patient care, as their military transition team medic counterpart stood by only to provide advice when needed.

These medics already know what they’re doing and have come to be very experienced, said Staff Sgt. Arthur Garza, 2-10-3 IA MiTT medic adviser, a San Antonio native.

Their only problem right now is the lack of medicinal supplies, he continued.

The primary objectives for the MedCAP were to treat a scabies outbreak among the village children, provide general health care, offer surgical referrals to patients and make a $10,000 medication drop.

“What the locals need is a good, secure medical infrastructure that includes good Iraqi doctors who can take care of their villagers and have access to equipment and medication, and that’s where we help,” Adam said.

In addition to providing good health care, Adam was also looking for children candidates who were in dire need of a wheelchair, such as those who suffered from cerebral palsy or were paralyzed from the waist down. Two wheelchairs were donated that day. The wheelchairs for the children came from a local Iraqi organization.

Other donations came from a variety of places. The Ninewah Province Provisional Reconstruction Team granted the medications given throughout the day and those for the medication drop. The pediatric vitamins came from all over the United States with the help of the 4-6 Air Cav. Family Readiness Group back in Fort Lewis, Wash.

Historically, MedCAPs have been limited on their scope by only taking pain relievers and a couple of bandages with them, said Adam. She has been able to make surgical referrals and encourage the local doctors to work together so that they can successfully take over when CF departs from their area.

“The whole intent for these projects is to help the Iraqis take care of themselves and I have seen great improvements in that aspect,” Adam said.