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Servicemembers begin medical mission in Peru

by Tech. Sgt. Kerry Jackson
Task Force New Horizons Public Affairs

6/25/2008 - AYACUCHO, Peru (AFPN) -- American servicemembers kicked-off medical mission New Horizons-Peru 2008, a U.S. and Peruvian humanitarian initiative scheduled through Aug. 31 to provide relief to underprivileged Peruvians.

The humanitarian medical mission, currently staffed by 35 Air Force medics, will provide free medical care to people living in the poorest regions of Ayacucho, Peru.

In addition, the Task Force New Horizons team is currently constructing much needed medical clinics, schools and water wells during the three-month mission.

"Our construction projects are progressing quite well, and all of the Task Force members are doing an outstanding job providing the Peruvians with their best work," said Maj. Matt Joganich, the Task Force New Horizons commander. "But it's the medical missions that we've been looking forward to because they allow us to meet more of the people this mission directly impacts."

The New Horizons-Peru medical team will provide medical care in dentistry, general medicine, internal medicine and optometry. The team will also provide more than $40,000 in pharmaceutical drugs for their Peruvian patients. To defuse the two-way language barrier, the medical team deployed 17 medics fluent in Spanish to aid doctors in diagnosing health issues and providing the quality medical care.

"We came prepared to provide the best care possible for the people of Peru," said Chief Master Sgt. Tim Healy, the Task Force New Horizons medical planner. "It took a great deal of planning, coordinating and working with Peruvian health professional to get here, but we're more than ready and look forward to treating and educating our Peruvian friends."

During the humanitarian mission, Air Force, Army and Navy medics, operating on a rotational schedule, will lead nine, three-day medical operations. They are scheduled to treat up to 750 patients per day and up to 20,000 patients over the duration of the mission.

While there are Airmen from various Air Force units participating in this rotation of the medical missions, the majority of the medical staff come from the 152nd Medical Group and the 163rd Medical Group from March Air Reserve Base, Calif., along with the 79th Medical Wing from Andrews Air Force Base, Md.

U.S. Southern Command officials sponsor approximately 70 medical missions per year, and 12th Air Force officials plan and execute about 30 of these exercises in locations through Central and South America plus additional sites throughout the Caribbean.

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