Tanzanian medical providers working in partnership with U.S. service members from Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa provided medical care to more than 2,100 Tanzanian women and children during a Medical Civil Action Program Jan. 9-13, 2012.
The five-day Medical Civil Action Program, or MEDCAP, was conducted in the villages of Mtimbwani, Duga Maforoni, Mwakajembe and Daluni in the Tanga region in northeast Tanzania in coordination with the Tanzania People’s Defence Force and local police.
“This is a very important exercise,” said Saumu Abdalha, a mother and a representative for women in the Mtimbwani community. “Health services are a bit limited in rural areas.”
The program supported the Tanzanian Health Initiative, a program that seeks to provide a comprehensive approach to health for the Tanzanian people and parallels the U.S. government’s Global Health Initiative.
“We wanted to focus on women and children’s health. It is very important to have healthy moms from the beginning,” said U.S. Navy Lieutenant Commander Natalie Tussey, Camp Lemonnier primary care physician and MEDCAP medical care provider.
During the program, women of childbearing age and children under five years old received a preventive health educational briefing, a consultation with a doctor and medication if necessary.
After registering, MEDCAP participants received tips on topics such as HIV, AIDS and malaria prevention, as well as preventive medicine measures for food and waterborne illnesses.
“This is helping a lot. The health education part is giving us awareness of how to prevent various diseases,” Abdalha said. “If people do not have knowledge, they will suffer because of the diseases.”
After the briefing, the women and children were seen by Tanzanian doctors and were either given treatment or referred to larger medical facilities, before receiving applicable vitamins, medications and corrective eyewear.
The Tanzanian medical providers did most of the work. The U.S. service members were simply helping “them do what they normally do by providing assets that we have,” said Staff Sgt. Andre Moxley, 490th Civil Affairs Battalion Functional Specialty Unit preventive medicine noncommissioned officer.
CJTF-HOA provided medical supplies and helped the Tanzanian medical providers treat the patients, said Moxley.
“It has been an excellent experience seeing what their needs are and how we can help assist them with their needs,” Moxley added.
Despite all the work put into caring for more than 2,100 patients in the rural villages, the local doctors and service members agree it was worth the effort.
“If there was not an exercise like this, the patients would remain with diseases not treated and not attended to,” said Mamwanaisha Sharia, a clinic officer and a doctor of medicine. “There are a lot of patients that have been attended to.”