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Jul 3, 2008

Communities in the west benefit from free medical attention

Story PictureHealth statistics among communities in the Cayo District are expected to show some improvement as a result of free health services offered by a team of visiting medical personnel who, along with the Belize Defence Force, treated patients with a wide range of health problems in the past ten days. News Five’s Kendra Griffith reports from Santa Familia.

Kendra Griffith, Reporting
This morning residents of Santa Familia Village lined up outside the primary school to access free medical care. The services are courtesy of a fourteen-member U.S. medical team involved in a Medical Readiness Training Exercise.

Major David Ives, MEDRETE Team Leader
“We have a dentist, an optometrist, a family practice doctor, family practice physician’s assistant, paediatric nurse practitioner, internal medicine doctor, and a women’s health nurse practitioner. That’s everybody. We treated a lot of children for dental disease, pin worms, skin conditions and rashes, we gave out a lot of vitamins just for general daily health and some of the children required antibiotics for skin infections and things like that.”

Over one thousand residents took advantage of the programme as they only able to access a doctor in their village twice a week.

Benicio Cano, Chairman, Santa Familia
“We have a doctor coming here every Tuesday and Wednesday, two times for the week.”

Kendra Griffith
“What do residents do if they have a health emergency?”

Benicio Cano
“They would need to transfer them to San Ignacio, either to the government hospital or to a private hospital. We have some community aid nurse, yeah, one of them, but the problem is that she is not equipped with medicines, stuff like that.”

The MEDRETE programme is hosted by the United States government and this morning it wrapped up its Cayo tour.

Major David Ives
“We were two days in Armenia at first and then we spent two days in Valley of Peace, then two days in Arenal, then two and a half days in Santa Familia. Overall we’ll see a little more than two thousand patients by the end of today.”

Robert Dieter, U.S. Ambassador to Belize
“This second MEDRETE of 2008 was a great success and I know the team leaves behind goodwill and appreciation for a job well done for the benefit of so many Belizeans.”

The U.S. team is from the fifty-sixth Medical Group Luke Air Force Base in Arizona. Assistance for the MEDRETE came from the Ministry of Health and the Belize Defence Force.

But just a couple miles from Santa Familia, the B.D.F. was conducting its own humanitarian exercise at the Eden Seventh Day Adventist Primary School in Santa Elena by helping to construct a classroom.

Col. Omar Pulido, Deputy Cmdr., B.D.F.
“My guys are working here as a part of the outreach that B.D.F. has towards the community. Wherever second battalion goes or the B.D.F. goes, we tend to interact with the community. In this case the principal approached us and asked for assistance and so we’ve taken then under wing and we are glad to be able to support them in this project.”

According to Principal Tharine Gabourel, come September they are hoping to double the size of their standard four class and have been fundraising to finance the structure.

Tharine Gabourel, Principal, Eden 7th Day Adventist Primary
“We got donation from a group in Parker, Colorado. They sent us some money for this construction. We got money from the Belize Conference of Seventh Day Adventist, and from the P.T.A., and we approached Mister Omar Pulido for the possibility of the B.D.F. helping us with labour and they graciously accepted and that is what they are doing here.”

Kendra Griffith
“Like many schools you all have space constraints I take it.”

Tharine Gabourel
“Definitely. That’s why this classroom is so urgent.”

Aside from the construction project, this summer the B.D.F. is also holding several camps throughout the country.

Major Ganey Dortch, Chief of Staff, B.D.F.
“We have the football session running, we also have the youth expedition camp running at Camp Belizario and as a follow up to this, starting Monday we would be looking at the Computer, we will also be looking at the driving programme, painting programme, and then some of these programmes will be running concurrently. As highlights for some these programme, like for example the one up in the Mountain Pine Ridge area where we’ll have the youth challenge programme, this is the one for older kids. The highlight of that programme is that they will be climbing the Victoria Peak.”

According to B.D.F. Chief of Staff, Major Ganey Dortch, they host the activities to get kids off the streets and keep them out of trouble.

Major Ganey Dortch
“Our society has started to lean to a certain direction in which it has become problematic for our security forces, problematic for families and as a result of that, for us to better cater for their energies, we looked at providing things that could challenge their minds, things that could challenge their energies.”

For more information on the camps, contact the Force Adjutant at 225-2174. Kendra Griffith reporting for News Five.

Another MEDRETE exercise was held in May in the Stann Creek District.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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