Salvadoran Armed Forces Provides Medical Specialists for People with Disabilities

Salvadoran Armed Forces Provides Medical Specialists for People with Disabilities

By Lorena Baires/Diálogo
July 25, 2016

The Salvadoran Armed Forces (FAES, for its Spanish acronym),
through their Coordination Support Unit for the Disabled (UCADFA, for its
Spanish acronym), travels to the country's remote mountainous regions to bring
specialized healthcare to people with disabilities. Doctors from UCADFA and the Military Health Command (COSAM,
for its Spanish acronym) organize the visits in conjunction with local
governments and, if necessary, they secure additional support from the
Salvadoran Social Security Institute and the Health Ministry (MINSALUD). On June 20th, Arnoldo Valladares, a 54-year-old soldier and
resident of the municipality of El Paisnal in the department of San Salvador,
responded to the FAES’ offer of free transportation to the Special Forces
Command (CFE, for its Spanish acronym). On the way to the CFE, Valladares recalled that he had just
turned 25 when he was shot through his right knee by a stray bullet at a
sugarcane plantation near his home. It was 1985, and El Salvador was the scene
of a civil conflict. Without immediate medical attention, he lost his leg. Since then Valladares has had several prosthetics, and the
last one, which he purchased in 2013 with the help of some friends who live
abroad, was already worn out. Not only did medical specialists at the CFE
repair the prosthesis, but they also took care of a visual impairment that
prevented him from reading. "I am so thankful to the Armed Forces because I
wouldn't have been able to pay for all of the medical care I received, the
medicines and the glasses,” Valladares said during the medical campaign at the
CFE. “My life will now get a lot better because I will be able to walk better
and read, which I haven't done for a long time.” A total of 160 people with disabilities, and their families, were mobilized through this medical campaign to receive specialized care in general medicine, orthopedics, dentistry, pediatrics, and psychology. All received their medication at no charge. Alejandro Segovio, a 47-year-old mechanic and resident of
the municipality of Aguilares, in the department of San Salvador, stood in line
to receive free pain medication for his hands. His pain was the result of using
worn-out crutches. "My crutches are useless now. The wood was splintered
and hurt my hands,” Segovio said, with tears in his eyes. “Now I walk with new
crutches, and I have pain medicine for my injured hands. I don't know how to
thank them for what they have done for me.” A few days later, the Sixth Infantry Brigade traveled to the municipality of Nueva Granada in Usulután, where it set up a joint healthcare center, in which COSAM and MINSALUD also took part. "This is the sixth poorest of the country's 262
municipalities. That's why we decided to come and bring specialized medical
services to people with disabilities," said Colonel Jaime Ernesto Arias,
commander of the FAES Sixth Infantry Brigade. Julián de los Ángeles Hurtado, 49, was also lined up to
receive treatment at the medical campaign. He was injured during an armed
conflict that confined him to a wheelchair. "I can't fully express my appreciation towards the Armed
Forces for curing an infection I had in my knee that was caused by some rusted
metal sheets I was moving in my house. Thank God it's nothing serious, and
everything is okay," Hurtado said while receiving his medication. María de Jesús Recinos, 39, gave one of the COSAM doctors a
tight hug and thanked him tearfully for her husband's crutches. He lost
mobility in his right leg after a traffic accident 15 years ago. "I am happy and so thankful because they have given my
husband a way to get around on his own. Now he will be able to continue working
without worrying, without having to depend on me to walk. We would never have
been able to pay for the help we received," said Recinos at the end of the
day in Usulután. So far this year, UCADFA has run five medical outreach days
for people with disabilities and has provided services for more than 1,500
people and their families. Colonel Óscar Alberto Ramírez, commander of the CFE,
considers these outreach days to be a show of the solidarity which is instilled
in every military unit. "These activities make us stronger and give us a lot of
satisfaction because we are serving our Salvadoran brothers and those who have
served our country,” Col. Ramírez said
during the medical outreach day on June 20th. “We appreciate all the public and
private institutions which have joined our efforts, because together we will
continue bringing good health to the population.”
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