PALAWAN, Philippine Islands --
Hundreds of men, women and children in need of medical care, line up outside of a Philippine elementary school, taking a number and waiting in line for the chance to receive care for themselves or a member of their family.
Navy doctors and corpsmen with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, in support of III Marine Expeditionary Brigade, worked alongside Philippine military doctors and civilian volunteers to provide basic medical and dental care to residents of Palawan at Quinlogan Elementary School, Oct. 22-24.
The combined team of seven doctors, six dentists, and more than a dozen corpsmen provided screenings, consultations, tooth extractions, and basic prescriptions.
The residents seeking care began in an administration area, where corpsmen identified their concerns through local volunteer translators. From there they were assigned to one of six classrooms, where medical and dental staffs were divided to address specific issues.
“We used our staff, our Philippine counterparts, and our supplies to give these people an opportunity to be better and do better in the future,” said Lt. Junior Grade Ellis Banks, officer in charge of Palawan medical stability operations for the 31st MEU.
The US and Philippine medical team treated 2,192 Palawan residents, mostly women and children, and offered $20,000 in medication over the three day period. The services provided are not regularly available in the area.
The combined effort increased the medical and dental health of the population, while furthering the relationship between the Philippine military and civilians in the area.
“These types of activities help us bridge the gap between the civilians and the military, by allowing us to attend the medical needs of the less fortunate,” said Capt. Alekhine Tinio, medical corps doctor for the Philippine Navy Western Command. “I believe they appreciate it, very much.”
The operation was part of Amphibious Landing Exercise 2012, an annual bilateral training exercise between US and Philippine armed forces, designed to increase interoperability.
“We’ve had a relationship for more than 30 years and we want to continually add to that relationship by working together to provide a service to the public,” said Ellis.
The 31st MEU is the U.S. force in readiness for the Asia-Pacific, and currently serves as the only continuously forward deployed Marine Air Ground Task Force.