By Army Sgt. Daniel T. West
Special to American Forces Press Service
Aug. 5, 2008 - Doctors from 41st Fires Brigade and El Salvador's Cuscatlan Battalion brought medical care to citizens of the Zuwarijat district of Kut, Iraq, July 31. The event kicked off Operation Bring on the Docs, a multiphase operation with the Wasit province's Health Ministry, which is designed to identify and improve health care capabilities, said Army Col. (Dr.) Italo Bastianelli, 41st Fires Brigade surgeon.
"The overall objective is to develop an Iraqi-led, enduring, quality health care system within Wasit province," he said.
The Zuwarijat operation was held at the Wasit Health Ministry's Jamaheer clinic, and focused on education for local health care professionals and citizens of the district.
Medical assistance visits are planned and executed in cooperation with Iraqi health care professionals, Bastianelli said. Coalition health care providers use the visits to understand limitations local doctors face and to improve their ability to care for their patients, he said.
"With improved training, facilities, medical equipment and supplies, Iraqi health professionals will be able to take the lead in caring for the Iraqi people," Bastianelli said. "This will allow coalition forces medical assets to take advisory and support roles."
About 200 patients received treatment, which focused on preventive medicine, at the Jamaheer clinic during the event.
"It's a good experience for young medics and doctors to get out and see the people of Iraq, and work with them, to help rebuild the country," said Army Pfc. Jessica Rush, of Company C, 589th Brigade Support Battalion, one of the medics on the scene.
"All together, it was fun," added Army Pfc. Dana Larsen, also of Company C. "We never got a rest or lunch break, and didn't even notice. We did a lot, but there are so many more things we wish we could have done, but couldn't."
They will have their chance. The operation's work in the area should take about two months to complete, Bastianelli said.
Army Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Buchanan, Multinational Division Center deputy commander for operations, also visited the event, and Col. Walter Mauricio Arevalo, commander of Cuscatlan Battalion, visited the Salvadoran troops assisting with the operation.
(Army Sgt. Daniel T. West serves in the 41st Fires Brigade Public Affairs Office.)