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Members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines Marine Battalion Landing Team-3-with assistance from Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines-treated 135 patients and 31 farm animals in Barangay (community) Asin, located in the Panamao municipality Jan. 7.
Held at the Tabuasin Primary School, AFP, JSOTF-P and regional health officials partnered for the Medical and Veterinarian Civic Action Program, bringing much-needed medical and veterinarian services to the coastal barangay.
Previously, many residents had never seen APF troops before and historically lawless groups have resided in the region.
Officials at the MEDCAP and VETCAP hope that by bringing these organizations together for free medical services, it can help provide peace and stability and improve the health for people in this remote area.
"I am honored to be here today. We have a long, working relationship with MBLT-3 to help the people of Sulu. We have done many projects, to include school renovations, roads, piers, and wells. We hope that through the support provided today, we will continue this friendship," said the U.S. Army Special Forces team leader for Liaison Coordination Element 1333-B.
At the opening ceremony, several key leaders spoke including Asim's Barangay Chairman, MBLT-3's Civil Military Officer Lt. Francisco R. Sayoc, JSOTF-P Veterinarian Lt. Col. Stephen Goldsmith and the LCE 1333-B team leader.
As medical and veterinarian services are virtually non-existent in the region, the event provided an opportunity for residents to receive treatments for themselves and their animals. Patients received check-ups and prescription medications and animals were treated with deworming medications and vitamin supplements.
"This was a very successful MEDCAP. The Panamao Regional Health Office pretty much ran the event. They brought heath care providers, midwives, pharmacists and nurses. They worked closely with MBLT-3 to make today happen," said a U.S. Army Special Forces Medic at the MEDCAP.
"JSOTF-P provided the vet services and donated medications, but it was the cooperation of the AFP and the local health and government officials who really deserve the credit for this event," he said.
Throughout the day, children received crayons with coloring and comic books. To pass the time waiting for treatment, kids sang, danced and watched movies with AFP Marines in a nearby classroom.
MBLT-3 and JSOTF-P regularly partner for a number of medical programs, including a weekly medical clinic at the AFP's Marine Camp Tandu Batu, which serves populations from Luuk, Omar and Panamao municipalities.
Since the current LCE team deployed to Sulu in late July, more than 1,700 patients have received care via MEDCAPs and other medical outreach programs. U.S. Army Special Forces medics and the JSOTF-P veterinarian work shoulder-to-shoulder with AFP Marine medics and regional health officials treating minor ailments, vaccinating animals and performing tooth extractions and minor surgeries.
Additionally, teams here provide parasite control medications and vitamin supplementation for livestock.
"We hope that by coming here today, we have built good relationships and demonstrated that war is not the solution. We come to show that the people here are very important to us," said 2nd Lt. Zues Alondra, an officer with MBLT-3.