RP,US Soldiers, Provincial Health Office Hold Joint Medical Mission In Jolo Island

July 4, 2007 at 12:06 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments


Scene from the medical mission. Photos contributed to the Mindanao Examiner by the Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines.

JOLO ISLAND (Mindanao Examiner / 04 Jul) – Some 900 Muslim villagers benefited from a joint RP-US medical mission on the volatile island of Jolo in the Sulu Archipelago, a known base of the al-Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf group.

The local Integrated Provincial Health Office (IPHO) also joined the humanitarian project carried out by the US Navy and members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

Treatments ranged from tooth extractions to minor surgeries, with many participants receiving medical supplies for various conditions free of charge from the pharmacy. The medical mission was held at the weekend in the village of Suuh.

“We chose Suuh because it is one of the hardest to reach,” said Erma Carpizo, health emergency management staff coordinator for Sulu. “We can only get here by land when it isn’t raining and only by sea if it is.”

The road to Suuh becomes muddy and impassable in the rain, which prevents assistance from being able to reach the people who need it most, she said.

The ability of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the US Navy to use boats made a seaborne landing a possibility early in the planning process, which started nearly a month ago, she said.

“Putting on a MEDCAP from the sea is difficult, because of the high cost of transportation,” said Carpizo. “With that variable out of the equation, it made it possible to get help to where it was needed most.”

The IPHO was able to bring 13 volunteers from the Luuk District and 15 from the Panamao District, including translators, dentists, dental technicians, and nurses to give inoculations and perform malaria smears, she said.

“The IPHO volunteers are the real key to this MEDCAP, because they are a lot more familiar with the needs of the people,” said US Navy Capt. Yves Nepomuceno, officer-in-charge of the USS Peleliu MEDCAPs.

“They give the local population a comfort level, a second person to give clarification in their native language on the medications and treatments we are recommending.”

As part of the Peleliu Pacific Partnership program, Peleliu brought doctors, nurses, dentists, and support personnel to the Philippines for six MEDCAPs, three of which were in the Sulu Province.

“In 23 years as a doctor in the Navy, these are the first humanitarian missions I have been a part of,” said Nepomuceno. “There is a lot of pride in taking care of our own guys, but there is also a lot of pride in taking care of our allies as well. For us in the medical field, it’s why we got into it, to give something back.”

Nepomuceno truly gave something back, and it meant a bit more for him personally, as he is a native Filipino.

“There is a lot of pride for my family, and for me, to come back to the Philippines and serve,” he said. “The Philippine Army soldiers can’t believe a Filipino is an O6.”

Nepomuceno wasn’t the only US Sailor proud of what they were able to accomplish during Peleliu’s stay in the Philippines.

“The people here have been so appreciative,” said US Navy Lt. Elizabeth Solze, an internal medicine doctor from the Peleliu. “It’s so nice to feel like we really able to help somebody.”

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2 Comments »

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  1. My son is serving aboard the USS Peleliu. It was great being able to read about the wonderful work being performed by an “assult” ship. Using the USS Peleliu as a floating hospital only reinforces the idea that most Americans do want to assist when given the opportunity to make a positive difference in the world.

  2. Dear Tom,

    Thank you for visiting our site. And thanks also to the wonderful crew and soldiers of the USS Peleliu.

    Mabuhay!

    mindanaoexaminer.com


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