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Medical Experts Lend Helping Hand in Swaziland
U.S. Army Reserve soldiers Colonel Morgan M. Gray, commander of the Medical Support Unit-Europe (MSU-E) in Mannheim, Germany, and Captain Charles A. Pastor, a medical doctor assigned to the MSU-E, took part in an exercise designed to share the
MBABANE, Swaziland - U.S. Army Reserve Colonel Morgan M. Gray, commander of the Medical Support Unit-Europe (MSU-E) in Mannheim, Germany, holds a Swazi orphan during a medical exercise in Mbabane in August 2009. MEDFLAG 09 is a joint and combined military exercise led by U.S. Army Africa in support of U.S. Africa Command to improve medical disaster preparedness and humanitarian assistance management. (Photo by Staff Sergeant Lesley Waters, CJTF-HOA)
1 photo: U.S. AFRICOM Photo
Photo 1 of 1: MBABANE, Swaziland - U.S. Army Reserve Colonel Morgan M. Gray, commander of the Medical Support Unit-Europe (MSU-E) in Mannheim, Germany, holds a Swazi orphan during a medical exercise in Mbabane in August 2009. MEDFLAG 09 is a joint and combined military exercise led by U.S. Army Africa in support of U.S. Africa Command to improve medical disaster preparedness and humanitarian assistance management. (Photo by Staff Sergeant Lesley Waters, CJTF-HOA) Download full-resolution version
U.S. Army Reserve soldiers Colonel Morgan M. Gray, commander of the Medical Support Unit-Europe (MSU-E) in Mannheim, Germany, and Captain Charles A. Pastor, a medical doctor assigned to the MSU-E, took part in an exercise designed to share the Army's medical expertise with Swaziland military leaders and Ministry of Health officials, August 2009.

MEDFLAG 09 is a joint and combined military exercise led by U.S. Army Africa in support of U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) to improve medical disaster preparedness and humanitarian assistance management.

The three-phase MEDFLAG exercise, in addition to promoting medical and security cooperation between the U.S. and Swaziland militaries, also aimed to improve interoperability between Swaziland military and government ministries and enhance the Swazi's capabilities to respond to disasters and medical emergencies.

During the first phase, Gray and Pastor provided training on the military decision-making process and responding to disasters and pandemics, and demonstrated how inter-ministerial cooperation is essential in disaster response. Representatives from Swaziland's Ministries of Health, Agriculture, and the Umbutfo Swaziland Defence Force took part.

"They were very interested in the presentation, The Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Defence worked well during the pandemic influence table top exercise supporting the importance of inter-ministry coordination during disaster response." said Gray.

Swaziland recently created a national disaster pandemic task force, and since the country recently experienced a cholera outbreak, the pandemic exercise was relevant and helpful in further developing their capacity to manage medical emergencies. Swaziland also faces challenges with diseases such as HIV and tuberculosis, which are prevalent in the country.

During phase two of the exercise, Gray helped supervise and script the narration of the mass casualty exercise conducted by Swaziland military and first responders.

"We came up with a script to explain what all the actions were as they were occurring during the [mass casualty exercise]," said Gray. "This event was observed by many U.S. and Swaziland dignitaries, and they were impressed by the rapid response and effective treatment and evacuation performed by the Swaziland first responders."

In phase three -- the humanitarian civic action phase -- veterinarians, dentists and other medical personnel went into each of Swaziland's four districts, setting up clinics in schools and treating animals at various sites.

The Ministry of Health is doing a tremendous job attempting to improve the health of the Swazi's with the resources it has and is grateful to the medical and humanitarian projects such as MEDFLAG 09 that provide some very helpful assistance, said Gray

During the two-week exercise, roughly 2,400 medical and dental patients were seen and treated during visits to the Swazi villages in each of the four regions of the country. At veterinary sites, nearly 10,500 animals received treatment.

Gray also supervised an outreach project to the Emmanuel Khayalethu orphanage in Motjane. Exercise participants donated more than $800 worth of food, supplies and toys for the orphanage.

"I guess the most rewarding thing was to see the children's faces. It was like Christmas in the summer time." Gray said. "I think it was a very productive exercise; all the participants gained from it, both the U.S military and the Swazis."
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