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U.S. military medical team treats 7,300 patients in El Salvador

12/14/2007 - DORAL, Fla. (AFPN) -- A U.S. Southern Command team, consisting of approximately 16 Air Force medical professionals, completed a medical readiness training exercise in La Union, El Salvador Dec. 13, where they provided general medical services to 7,300 patients from communities near the country's southeastern coast.

The medical exercise is the first of 65 bilateral medical readiness training exercises the command will sponsor in 17 Caribbean, Central and South American countries through Sept. 30, 2008.

During the exercise, Peace Corps volunteers and spouses of U.S. servicemembers assigned to the U.S. Embassy's military group in San Salvador assisted the Air Force medics by providing translation services for the team and their patients.

The national director of Alianzas El Salvador, a non-governmental organization focused on domestic public health issues, also visited the team to observe their operations. The NGO has expressed an interest in partnering with U.S. military medical teams during future humanitarian assistance exercises in the country.

"There's an abundance of talent within our military services with the ability and desire to serve underprivileged communities in our hemisphere," said Lt. Gen. Glenn Spears, deputy commander of U.S. Southern Command. "Our vision is to partner with other U.S., international and non-governmental agencies with similar expertise and interests, so that we can work together to help those communities and deliver on our shared promise of a better tomorrow for all the Americas."

Medical readiness exercises have been a part of the command's humanitarian and civic assistance program for almost two decades and afford active and reserve U.S. military medical personnel the opportunity to hone their skills while addressing the health needs of thousands of patients and strengthening the existing friendships between the U.S. and the countries they visit.

Operating at an annual cost of approximately $4.7 million, U.S. Southern Command's medical readiness training exercises include the participation of approximately 1,900 U.S. personnel who provide medical and dental care to more than 200,000 patients and veterinary services to more than 60,000 livestock in the command's area of focus each year.

The next scheduled exercise will include the deployment of a 20-person specialized medical team to Honduras, where they'll provide ophthalmology services through Jan. 26. 

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