Joint medical and dental team provide basic services to rural populace

17 Oct 2008 | Lance Cpl. Joseph A. Cabrera

More than 1,400 residents from Barangay Santa Ines West and surrounding communities received basic medical and dental services provided by the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the U.S. military Oct. 16-17 as part of this year’s Talon Vision exercise.

The units involved were from the Philippine Army’s 3rd Mechanized Infantry Battalion, the Philippine Air Force’s 1302nd Dental Dispensary, and U.S. Navy medical personnel with Marine Aircraft Group 36, 3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade.

The two-day medical and dental civil action project benefited the local populace of an area where adequate medical and dental care is not readily available, said Lt. Raul Chardenal, the medical planning officer with MAG-36

Although the rural health unit provides medical care, the availability of care is based on the availability of resources, said Capt. Juvegleen Escandor, commanding officer of 32nd Mechanized Infantry Company, 3rd MIB.

Through these activities, the Philippine government, with the assistance of AFP and U.S. military, are able to provide free basic services to the populace whose needs would otherwise be left unfulfilled.

The physicians treated a variety of illnesses and acute symptoms by providing immediate care and prescribing medication free of charge to patients.

According to Chardenal, physicians were able to witness immediate results and gratitude from patients.

“There is no better reward to a physician than having a successful outcome on the spot,” he said.

Physician and patient interactions also involved medical counseling and preventive care.

According to Escandor, the majority of illnesses acquired by the local populace are the result of a lack of education on disease prevention.

Dentists and dental technicians provided restorative and intervention dental care, primarily pulling teeth, which could not be fixed or restored.

“This is a measure that is focused on alleviating pain and discomfort to restore a better quality of life,” Chardenal said.

Overall, the combined efforts of the medical team were appreciated by the residents who were in dire need of care, he said.

“They are completely appreciative and we saw them smile, we may not be able to communicate with them in words, but the relationship between a patient and care provider is very much established in the short time we get to see them,” Chardenal said.

Talon Vision and Amphibious Landing Exercise are annual bilateral training exercises conducted between the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the U.S. military, which enhance military interoperability and improve communities through humanitarian assistance and civil action projects.

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31st Marine Expeditionary Unit