medics provide help in austere conditions

Capt. Jennifer Lovett
USAFE Public Affairs

***image2***A four-man team from U.S. Air Forces in Europe recently spent a week delivering badly needed medical expertise and therapy to the African country of Uganda.

Led by Dr. (Lt. Col.) Parker Plante from Ramstein’s 435th Aerospace Medicine Squadron, the team set up camp about two hours from the capital city of Kampala in an austere civilian facility on the Nile River.

“We’re staying on site instead of in the capital, trying to see the more than 100 patients who arrive daily,” said Dr. Plante, who saw 82 optometry patients. “It’s way more than our team of four plus a sergeant from the embassy can handle in a single day but when a patient who badly wants to be able to read the Bible can, it’s most rewarding for everyone.”

Ugandan military physicians teamed up with the American medics to deliver aid as well.

“It is a very timely intervention to a community that has limited access to proper medical care; the crowds clearly show how much the services are needed and appreciated,” said Maj. Godfrey Bwine, physician and director of Public Health and the Ugandan People’s Defense Force.

Although the conditions were stark, the team senior NCO was optimistic.
“It is pretty rural, complete with bed netting and sporadic electricity,” said Master Sgt. Roy Lozano, deployed from the USAFE Surgeon General’s office. “One day we couldn’t give our presentation because the electricity went out but despite the conditions, as long as we have supplies, we’ll push forward.”
Dr. (Lt. Col.) Shobha Sem, a family practice physician from the USAFE Surgeon General’s office, led the effort to see 79 patients in family practice on the first day.

One of the objectives of the mission was to train and trade information with local Ugandan military physicians as part of a European Command military exchange initiative. The team trained 30 officers.

Dr. (Brig. Gen.) Lwanga, deputy chief of health services of UPDF, said, “This medcap is a hands-on training assistance to support UPDF to help us realize our objectives in one of the areas of professionalization – that is the equipping of UPDF with skills to enable it to provide military assistance in the area of health care. I highly commend the Department of Defense and the U.S. Embassy for this support.”