JTF-Bravo Treats Indigenous Tribe in Panama

JTF-Bravo Treats Indigenous Tribe in Panama

By Dialogo
August 07, 2012

Members of Joint Task Force-Bravo, partnered with Panama’s Ministry of Health and National Border Service (SENAFRONT), to provide medical and dental assistance to nearly 1,600 indigenous people during a Medical Readiness Training Exercise (MEDRETE), from July 17-20.

The cooperative team provided medical and dental care to the Guna tribe who inhabit many small islands along the northeastern coast of Panama, between El Porvenir and Colombia.

“Compared to all the other MEDRETEs I’ve been on, this was the first time that there were more host-nation providers than U.S. military providers,” said Army Lieutenant Colonel Bart Diaz, Medical Element (MEDEL) Commander at JTF-Bravo. “It all came together in an integrated fashion with our host nation providers, from the Panama Border Service and Ministry of Health working alongside U.S. military medical providers.”

More than 350 patients received 651 immunizations, while the pharmacy dispensed 757 prescription medications. The medical team performed 18 pap smears and delivered three babies.

Two Guna mothers were so appreciative of the team that they named their newborn babies after U.S. Air Force Major Brent Waldman and Dr. Wilmer Amador, both dentists with the JTF-Bravo MEDEL.

“It’s really an honor that a mother would give her child my name,” said Maj. Waldman. “It’s really amazing.”

JTF-Bravo partners with host-nation health agencies to conduct MEDRETEs throughout Central and South America and the Caribbean. The exercises alleviate human suffering, develop relationships with host-nations and enhance medical capabilities in the region.

U.S. Army Captain John Schlict, Panama Mission Commander, said the team succeeded in accomplishing its pre-deployment goals.

“Having the MEDRETE combined with the Panama Border Service exercises, JTF-Bravo was able to meet our four mission objectives for this operation, which were to bolster SENAFRONT as a legitimate authority in the region, develop Panamanian medical capacity, execute mission command and improve expeditionary medical capabilities in the region to help the people of Guna Yala.”

The opinion of the officer, major Waldman, is interesting, regarding a patient choosing his name for one of his children. Already at a distance, I remember being in the Northern Department of Alta Verapaz, Guatemala; and an acquaintance claimed for his child the name of a character who will always be remembered, the first suggestion, right by the way, was: Ronald Reagan and so since then in this country it exists as a single name of the well-remembered American President. It is usual in rural villages especially but also urban region, to forever remind people that one way or another have made something for life and survival.