U.S., Honduran partners help more than 1,100 flood victims

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Matthew McGovern
  • Joint Task Force-Bravo Public Affairs
More than 20 medical personnel from Joint Task Force-Bravo provided general medical care to more than 1,100 flood victims Nov. 29 and 30 here.

The JTF-Bravo team, from Soto Cano Air Base, Honduras, collaborated with their Honduran medical partners, including the Honduran Ministry of Health, to provide care to communities affected by October's flooding in southern Honduras.

The flooding affected thousands of Hondurans and, besides the recent medical assistance, the U.S. government provided $190,000 in direct humanitarian assistance, according to a U.S. Embassy press release.

"The places chosen were the hardest hit by torrential rain, mudslides, flooding and sink holes," said 1st. Lt. Tyler Grunewald, a medical operations officer from JTF-Bravo's Medical Element. "The recent weather and the destruction of crops from flooding made survival tough for these villages and consequently affected their health."

By the end of the two-day mission, U.S. and Honduran medical staff assisted nearly 150 dental patients, filled more than 2,000 pharmacy prescriptions and educated more than 1,100 people with preventative medicine.

The majority of the people, villagers around Choluteca, were treated for illnesses including respiratory infections, gastro-intestinal diseases, skin infections, pneumonia, tuberculosis, diabetes, high blood pressure and even acute trauma from agricultural machinery that almost severed a patient's right foot.

"This was a great opportunity to work with the Honduran government and the Honduran Ministry of Health," said Col. Matthew Rettke, the JTF-Bravo MEDEL commander. "This partnership is key and provides humanitarian assistance for villagers affected by the recent flooding. This also provided an opportunity for our personnel to provide medical care in austere conditions similar to what they would encounter in a disaster response."

JTF-Bravo members also supported Honduran clinicians who provided nearly 100 immunizations, more than 80 pap smears and close to 20 voluntary HIV tests to people not readily exposed to medical care.

"These type of missions provide the opportunity to work as a team with partner nations, allowing us to not only provide health care to needed population but conduct long-lasting preventive medicine activities that would otherwise be very difficult to achieve," said Dr. Ricardo Aviles, a Honduran medical officer from MEDEL.

The locations of the mission were chosen after a pre-deployment site survey and were based on the Honduran Ministry of Health's recommendations and Honduran military leaders' feedback. The locations were also validated by the local Contingency Permanent Committee, which, as the Honduran equivalent of the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency, is responsible for disaster response.

"This was a nice gesture from our American partners of providing services to the people who are the poorest in our community," said Honduran Army 1st Lt. Angel Eduardo Soler-Lobo, an artillery officer and event coordinator. "A little help is very valuable to us and provides happiness to our hearts."

In fiscal year 2011, JTF-Bravo medical members conducted 15 medical readiness training exercises, treating more than 41,000 patients throughout Central America.