Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Traci Inniss checks the blood pressure of an Iraqi woman during a cooperative medical engagement in a local village here today. After discovering the woman’s high blood pressure, the medical personnel were able to prescribe medication to treat the illness. (Photo by Lance Cpl. Jessica Aranda)
AL ANBAR PROVINCE, Iraq (June 3, 2008) – Medical personnel attached to Marine Wing Support Squadrons 172 and 274 visited a local village to participate in a cooperative medical engagement here today.
CME missions are dedicated to providing health care to local nationals who lack adequate facilities while simultaneously raising awareness on the people’s health conditions to the Iraqi government.
“The Marine Corps is often involved in special task forces, so humanitarian efforts like this one are not a foreign concept to the military,” said Navy Lt. Cmdr. Christina M. Williams, the medical officer for MWSS-274.
We go to the community to screen patients, share resources and report our findings back to the Iraqi minister of health, explained Williams.
During the mission, personnel set up a clinic at the town’s school where locals met with medical staff to discuss health issues.
While examining more than 30 Iraqis, doctors discovered a myriad of illnesses ranging from hypertension and respiratory infections to intestinal diseases, a consequence of drinking unsanitary water.
To treat these illnesses, the medical personnel distributed bottled water and antibiotics. The CME team also passed out toiletries, demonstrated how to brush teeth and taught locals the importance of proper hygiene.
“I think the people were very happy to see us here,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Traci Inniss, the senior petty officer for MWSS-274. “We brought them medicines they can’t afford or they don’t have the means to get because there is no local doctor.”
The long-term goal of CMEs is to give the Iraqi people a sustainable medical program of their own.
“We do not want the communities to become dependent on us because they will feel abandoned after we leave,” explained Williams. “We are assisting them in assisting themselves. We are teaching them to take care of their own so the Iraqis see their own people as a source of help.
“Like the saying goes, ‘If you give a man a fish, he’ll eat for a day. If you teach a man to fish, he’ll eat for a lifetime.’ We are doing just that,” added Williams.
The medical personnel plan several follow-up CME visits to the village in the future.