By Army Pvt. Tamara Gabbard
Special to American Forces Press Service
July 2, 2008 - An airman and a sailor from Combined Joint Task Force 101 here teamed up with Afghan doctors and other coalition medics June 26 to host a village medical outreach event in the village of Nilay in the Kohe Safi district of Afghanistan's Parawan province. The event was held to help foster relationships among coalition forces, local governments and local doctors while improving the health of Afghans living in the province, officials said.
Command officials try, whenever possible, to include women in such events. Five women took part in this event: two health care providers, two interpreters and a veterinarian, Air Force Capt. Marshall Fiscus, Parwan province's chief medical officer, said.
"When you bring in this type of assistance, it really shows that you respect their culture," said Navy Cmdr. Betsy Myhre, the officer in charge of the cooperative medical assistance team. "Not only is it better for the trust to allow females to see female doctors, but [bringing in the veterinarians] shows that we care about their livelihood, also."
Animals are very important to Afghan people and their livelihood, Fiscus explained. The veterinarians set up outside and inspected animals the villagers brought to them. They de-wormed and vaccinated the animals and gave advice to the herd owners.
"We want to come in with a village concept," Fiscus explained. "We really don't want to segregate, and that is why we bring in all the different providers."
"The key thing on these missions is that the people involved truly understand the culture," she said. "We bring in people, such as the interpreters from this country, to help [the villagers] understand that we mean no harm."
(Army Pvt. Tamara Gabbard serves with 382nd Public Affairs Detachment.)