Sunday, June 25, 2006

New RP-US Medical Mission To Benefit Hundreds Of Poor Muslims In Mindanao

ZAMBOANGA CITY (Zamboanga Journal / 25 Jun) Hundreds of poor Muslim villagers are expected to benefit from an upcoming joint Philippine and U.S. military medical mission in the southern Filipino city of Marawi on the main island of Mindanao, officials said Sunday.

The medical mission Wednesday under the so-called Project Bayanihan would be the 16th since last year conducted by the Armed Forces of the Philippines in central Mindanao, said Commander Kathy Wright, a spokesperson for the Joint Special Operations Task Force - Philippines.

More than 10,000 mostly poor Filipinos have benefited in the past joint medical missions in central Mindanao.

"Project Bayanihan, a partnership of the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ 1st Marine Brigade, Central Mindanao government organizations and Joint Special Operations Task Force - Philippines, will be conducting a medical civil action project at Kampo Ranao.

"The MEDCAP is part of a continuing series in Mindanao and the Sulu archipelago that brings medical and dental care to the Philippine people. The MEDCAP provides the Philippine Armed Forces an opportunity to build upon a long-standing friendship and humanitarian assistance partnership with U.S forces," Wright said.

Major General Gabriel Habacon, Southern Philippines military chief, said the medical mission would benefit many poor Filipinos and that soldiers and nongovernmental organizations would conduct more humanitarian undertakings in remote areas in the region.

"We are working now to provide more humanitarian assistance, like this medical mission, to remote areas in the south so we can help more poor people and provide them the necessary medical attention," he told the Zamboanga Journal.

At least 7 Filipino doctors from the provincial health office and four other U.S. doctors from the JSOTF-P and destroyer USS Momsen, of the United States Navy, would join the medical mission, aside from 3 dentists and several nurses and numerous medical assistants, Wright said.

"Volunteer staff from the provincial health office will also be on site to provide support and assistance with registration, health screening, translation and the distribution of medication," Wright said.

She said Col. Ramiro Alivio, commander of the First Marine Brigade, has coordinated extensively with the Marawi municipality for the medical mission.

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