US, BDF provide humanitarian assistance in Malwelwe

Story and photo by Senior Airman Lausanne Morgan
U.S. Air Forces Africa Public Affairs

THEBEPHATSWA AIR BASE, Botswana — Family and community members from the Malwelwe village gathered to receive medical treatment during a humanitarian civilian assistance event Tuesday.

The HCA event was conducted as part of the MEDLITE/SOUTHERN ACCORD 12 exercise, a key element in a broader series of military-to-military activities that demonstrate the strong partnership between the U.S. and Botswana Defense Forces.

“We’re here as part of MEDLITE/SOUTHERN ACCORD 12,” said U.S. Air Force Capt. Francis Obuseh, officer-in-charge of the HCA event. “As part of the exercise, we are providing humanitarian assistance to support the BDF in achieving their goals in different medical aspects.”

During the HCA, there were about 45 U.S. military and BDF personnel providing dental care, HIV screening, and safe male circumcision.

“Last week we shared academic training and this event was a wonderful chance to work side-by-side with the BDF dental staff to provide care and really put into practice the things we learned in the classroom,” said Lt. Col. Enrique Rosado, an International Health Specialist dentist from U.S. Air Forces Africa.

Rosado said some of the common things that they saw during the dental screenings were tooth decay, tooth fractures and gum disease.

The medical team also provided a comprehensive HIV program for the villagers, Obuseh said. The members of the BDF provided HIV counseling, screening and SMC education, where the U.S. helped with the dental care and SMC surgeries.

“We’re promoting circumcision because it offers partial protection against HIV,” said Yvonne Kgwarae, Population Service International communications coordinator. “Circumcision provides 60 percent protection against HIV transmission. Botswana is one of the hardest countries hit when it comes to HIV.”

Kgwarae assisted in coordinating the HCA, and through the PSI, she has worked about five years to help reduce the prevalence of HIV and improve overall health for the people of Botswana.

During the course of the day, the joint U.S. and BDF medical and dental teams performed 250 general medical consultations, 54 HIV tests, 63 dental examinations and 29 SMCs.

Malwelwe is one of four villages in Botswana where the medical team will conduct humanitarian assistance events. Mantshwabisi, Monwane and Serinane will be the other villages visited by the team.

“It was a truly rewarding experience and I look forward to doing it again,” Rosado said. “The people were so receptive and thankful for the services we were able to provide.”

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