Friday, August 31, 2007

Iraqi doctors, medics treat fellow Iraqis at medical engagement

By Sgt. 1st Class Angela McKinzie
2nd BCT, 10th Mtn. Div. (LI) PAO
Multi-National Division – Center

VICTORY BASE COMPLEX,— Since the beginning of the war Americans have provided basic medical care to Iraqis, but more and more Iraqi medics are treating their own countrymen.
Members of Task Force Vigilant, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry), Fort Drum, N.Y., coordinated with Iraqi medics and doctors to conduct a combined medical engagement outside Victory Base Complex Aug. 24.
“We coordinated for medics from the Iraqi army and Iraqi doctors to participate in the operation,” said 1st Lt. Randall Cornelison, TF Vigilant force protection officer, from Moore, Okla. “Having the Iraqis treat their own shows the citizens the capabilities of the (Iraqi army) and doctors.”
Although TF Vigilant hosted the medical engagement, the Iraqis were solely responsible for providing basic health care to their own.
“Today is a good day to show the Iraqi people we can help them,” said Dr. Zetad Tarque, an Iraqi practitioner of internal medicine. “It is my job to help them and I am glad that I am able to.”
The medical engagement was fully staffed with Iraqi medics, nurses, pharmacists, dentists and doctors.
For the families of the Iraqi Family Village the engagement provided basic medical care that had been unavailable.
“Most of the Iraqis who live in Iraqi Family Village have no tribal ties to anyone, so their medical care is limited,” Cornelison said. “And since most of them do not have money they can’t afford medical care.”
Cornelison also mentioned the majority of the people in Iraqi Family Village live in abandoned buildings, schools and offices to make ends meet.
Because many Iraqis cannot afford even basic medical care, dental care for them was never attainable until the medical engagement.
The engagement was also fully staffed with U.S. and Iraqi dentists.
“A lot of the Iraqis do not have the money to practice good oral hygiene,” said Dr. Suhaib, an Iraqi dentist. “We can provide them with basic dental care today and schedule follow-up appointments with the patients who need it.”
Like Suhaib, the other Iraqi doctors at the medical engagement agreed to provide follow-up care to the patients who needed it. They also provided free referrals to their clinics.
As the Iraqis were busy treating their own, U.S. Soldiers stood by their side ready to assist if necessary.
“We need you to check the blood pressure for this patient,” Tarque said to a U.S. medic as he pointed at a pregnant woman. “I think she may have hypertension.”
“The Iraqi medics are very knowledgeable,” said Spc. Christina Baker, a native of Salem, Ore., who serves as a medic with the 210th Brigade Support Battalion, 2nd BCT. “Some of them are even more knowledgeable than our own medics.”
After the medical engagement, Iraqis walked away knowing their needs can be met by fellow Iraqis.

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