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Regional News of Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Source: GNA

Joint US/Ghana military humanitarian exercise ends

Doryumu (G/R), July 20, GNA - The 10-day United States-sponsored bilateral medical outreach and humanitarian exercise came to a head on Tuesday, boosting existing ties between the militaries of Ghana and the US.

Exercise MEDFLAG (Medical Field Logistics Assistance Group), an annual event facilitated by the US African Command, brings together US army personnel with their African military counterparts to enhance the readiness of both countries’ medical personnel in field operations.

MEDFLAG 11, which commenced from July 11, 2011, was aimed at training medical corps of the two armed forces to build and expand the deployable medical capabilities of both institutions, and to foster greater community relations through humanitarian civil assistance.

“The gain from this exercise for the Ghana Armed Forces (GAF) has been enormous and it has been good for us all,” said Commodore Rolland Sowa, Director General Medical Services of the GAF Doryumu, one of the selected areas for the exercise in the Dangme West District of the Greater Accra Region.

He said he was optimistic the exercise would shore up moves being made by High Command to improve civil/military ties.

“This collaboration apart from strengthening existing ties between us and the US and promoting interoperability, has improved our civil/military relations.”

“Civilians can now see the military as their partners in social development, and we have also gained from that experience,” Commodore Sowa said.

About 75 military personnel, including 20 general practice doctors from the US, undertook the exercise with some 100 personnel drawn from the 37 Military Hospital and NADMO to undertake the medical, dental and veterinary outreach services in three communities in the Dangme West District.

The exercise also consisted of classroom instructions, field training and mass casualty exercises aimed at training personnel in a variety of disciplines.

“Together we have learnt from each other…And once we leave here, both armies will be smarter and stronger,” said Lieutenant Colonel Rodney Boyd, officer-in-charge of the US MEDFLAG team.

“The exercise has given us the opportunity to become more efficient in medicare, allowed us more time to practise our work, and given us more experience. We had a great cooperation from the Ghanaian team.”

Lt. Col. Boyd said the medical outreach team screened and treated more that 2,000 people in those localities for various illnesses, prominent among them being malaria, severe hypertension and worm infestation.

Serious medical conditions that cloud not be treated were referred to the district hospitals or the 37 Military Hospital.

Indigenes the GNA interacted with commended the US AFRICOM move, hailing it as “a timely intervention”, since they could not afford to pay for some of the services that were rendered by the MEDFLAG team.

MEDFLAG has been held in other African countries, including Gabon, Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Angola and Tunisia.

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