By Army 1st Lt. Lory Stevens
Special to American Forces Press Service
Sept. 16, 2008 - With the assistance of Panjshir Provincial Reconstruction Team medics, doctors in Panjshir province treated 473 Afghan patients this week in the province's Rohka and Shutol districts. Crowds gathered at the clinics shortly after Air Force Capt. Glenn M. Little, medical team chief, Staff Sgt. Janine Duschka, medical technician, and Tech. Sgt. Dawn Tiemann, medical technician, arrived to support the medical engagements.
"The PRT coordinates medical engagements, or missions where members of the medical team go with local governors and Dr. Samad Karimi, the director of public health, to local villages to help Afghans in need of medical care," said Army Maj. Blake Bass, Panjshir PRT liaison officer at Task Force Warrior.
Medical engagements are a platform for the medical team to work closely with Afghan providers. This allows opportunities for learning from each other's best practices and building up the medical community in Afghanistan, Bass said.
In addition to delivering care to local people, the engagements show the Afghan people that the coalition is interested in them and respects their medical system's expertise.
"Capacity-building is the goal," Bass said. During the medical engagements, local doctors provide check-ups as the PRT assists and supplements with items necessary for treatment.
Little said the sheer numbers of patients treated was astonishing.
"We assisted with 103 adult males, 196 pediatric males, 93 adult females and 81 pediatric females, totaling 473 patients within five hours," he said. "Common complaints were headaches, back pain and gastrointestinal issues including diarrhea, reflux disease and parasites."
The PRT supplemented minor medicine shortfalls with supplies they brought with them to the clinics. Pain control medications, vitamins and dehydration medications were given out to patients during the medical engagements.
The medics also treated cases of suspected parasites and provided education on the need for hand-washing and boiling river water before drinking it, Little said.
A cultural practice for Afghan women is to be seen only by female health care providers. The lone woman provider at the Rohka clinic recently transferred to Kabul, leaving the community with only male providers.
"Duschka and Tiemann really helped out as far as their female coverage, and our assistance was also appreciated in Shutol, a district with only one medical clinic," Little said.
(Army 1st Lt. Lory Stevens serves in the Task Force Warrior Public Affairs Office.)