Misawa Airmen medically assist Sri Lankans during Pacific Angel
By Senior Airman Brittany A. Chase, 35th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
/ Published September 01, 2016
JAFFNA, Sri Lanka (AFNS) -- Patient care is crucial in a country with minimal accessibility to hospitals due to lengthy commutes and no means to travel to these locations.
Operation Pacific Angel 16-3 had two health services operation sites to better enable local nationals in remote areas the opportunity to receive medical care.
Although the main reason of Pacific Angel was to provide medical care, the professionals who volunteered their time to make an impact also received an opportunity they could have never imagined.
"I think this was one of those life-changing events for all of us," said Capt. Brooke Kibel, a 35th Aerospace Medicine Squadron optometrist. "Personally, it was amazing to see everyone come together from all different nations to successfully help the people of Sri Lanka and strengthen our military ties."
Jaffna is a very rural town, making it difficult for the locals to make the long commutes for medical treatment.
“Out here in the rural areas of Sri Lanka, people don't have the time and the means to go to a hospital to receive medical care,” said Lt. Muhammad Fahil, a Maldives National Defense Force doctor. “This generally causes patients to omit going to a hospital, where as when we have a health care camp here, patients can come without any cost to them; they can come here and get their minor elements checked out and treated.”
Fahil said providing medical care during Pacific Angel to the people of Sri Lanka in need was a priority.
“As medical doctors our main service is to help people, and who needs this care more than people who can't afford it?” Fahil said. “So in rural areas like this, I get satisfaction that we actually achieve something to make people's lives better.”
Pacific Angel provided medical care in four main areas: general health, optometry, dental and physical therapy.
“The people of Sri Lanka need the medical care and we have the means to help them,” said Staff Sgt. Victoria Campbell, a 154th Hawaii Air National Guard Medical Group medic. “It’s great we’re doing this and seeing the look on their faces when they get a new pair of glasses -- they’re radiant and overjoyed. It may not seem like a lot to us but to them it’s a huge deal.”
Fahil described this opportunity as a great experience because there are five different nations working together enabling him to see how every countryman attends to the patient and how they carry out their care, ultimately broadening their viewpoints. He also mentioned how this helps his expertise as a doctor.
“This is a huge thing for us and the people,” Fahil said. “Usually we are at home in the hospital treating our countrymen but coming out here and treating people who’re in much more need is an overwhelming satisfaction. It’s hard days, it’s long days but when you go back to the hotel there is the satisfaction of knowing you achieved something amazing.”