4,000 Receive Free Care Through US Program

More than 4,000 Cambodians received free eye, dental and general medical care during the first five days of the US Navy’s 10-day program in Banteay Meanchey’s Thma Puok district, which concludes May 5.

The Navy Medical Civil Action Program, or Medcap, includes 20 sailors and four marines from the Third Marine Logistics Group, based in Okinawa, Japan, along with 12 RCAF medical personnel and about 35 volunteers from four NGOs, said project leader Lieutenant Dean Goad of the US Navy.

“I am really impressed with the RCAF guys. They have done an exceptional job and increased our capabilities,” Goad said by telephone Wednesday.

The Medcap has so far provided treatment to as many as 1,090 people in a single day, Goad said. He added that some people have traveled more than 100 km to seek treatment from the Medcap.

“We are glad for the US Navy’s help,” District Governor Deap Chhoun said by telephone Tues­day. “This is the first time Thma Puok district has received free medical care.”

Rose Charities is supporting the mission with two general physicians, a four-member eye surgery team and 11 translators, Goad said, adding that International SOS sent eight dentists and the US Embassy supplied two translators.

Three NGOs—Population Services International, Cambodia Reproductive and Child Health Resource Center and Khmer HIV/AIDS NGO Alliance—are providing health education with nightly concerts.

It is a very collaborative environment, Goad said, with Khmer doctors working alongside the US Navy.

“There was a great outpouring of goodwill from all around,” said Lieutenant Brian Ellis, a nurse.

The Cambodian government, US Embassy and the US Agency for International Development jointly identified Thma Puok district as a strategic place for the program, Goad said.

“We try to pinpoint the places where we can hit the most people,” Goad said.

US embassy spokesman Jeff Daigle said the site is strategic for the US “because we have never conducted a Medcap in Banteay Meanchey province and the district where the event is taking place is under-served by the health care system due to its remoteness.”

Daigle said the logistics group may return next year for another Medcap and there are plans for the US 13th Air Force to conduct Medcaps in Kompong Chhnang and Kompong Cham provinces next month.

“The Cambodian ambassador loves having us here and so does the local government. I completely anticipate us coming back again,” Goad said.

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