By Army Sgt. Daniel T. West
Special to American Forces Press Service
May 5, 2008 - Coalition forces conducted a medical assistance mission in Byda village, near Kut, Iraq, May 2. The mission is part of an outreach program to provide for outlying villages in Iraq's Wasit province that have seen little or no coalition presence, said Army Lt. Col. Rob Jones, deputy team leader for the Wasit Provincial Reconstruction Team.
American, Salvadoran, Georgian and Lithuanian troops took part in the mission to perform medical and dental checks and distribute food, vitamins and hygiene supplies.
The villagers need supplies badly, as there is no hospital nearby, said Lt. Fernando Alfaro Iraheta, a doctor with the Salvadoran Cuscatlan Battalion.
"We will give them medicine, whatever's needed, and any help we can give them," he said.
The mission also served to improve relationships between coalition forces and civilians in the area, said 1st Lt. Zaza Komladze, a surgeon with 1st Georgian Infantry Brigade.
"It's important for peace in this area," he said. "The people here have a lot of medical problems, mostly because of their poor living conditions."
The dental services provided for the villagers were limited by the primitive facilities, but Capt. Frederico Gomez, a dentist with the Cuscatlan Battalion, said he does what he can.
"The only treatment we can provide for the pain is to pull the tooth," he said. "Unfortunately, nearly all who come for treatment need cleaning, and I can't do that here."
The villagers took full advantage of the help coalition forces brought, standing in line for hours waiting for treatment.
"We respect the coalition forces and appreciate what they are doing here," said Sheikh Sameer, the village sheikh.
(Army Sgt. Daniel T. West serves with the 214th Fires Brigade Public Affairs Office.)