Wednesday, June 29, 2016

US Navy Mercy Hospital ships in Albay for 2-week humanitarian mission

LEGAZPI CITY, June 28 (PNA) -- Hospital ship Uinted States Navy Ship (USNS) Mercy with 1,000 United State Naval personnel arrived on Monday and docked at the waters off Albay Gulf some 5 kilometers from the City port.

USNS Mercy ship would hold a two-weeks Pacific Partnership 2016 Humanitarian and disaster relief preparedness mission that kicked off Monday, hosted by Albay province, said Lt. Commander Kris Hooper, Pacific Partnership public affairs officer.

Hooper in an interview with Philippines News Agency (PNA) said the Pacific Partnership aims to bring partner nations like the Philippines together “shoulder to shoulder” prepare to face natural disasters so it can effectively respond when crisis happens.

Hooper said the joint Philippine US Navy Service humanitarian mission would be both a sharing and learning exercise between the two nations in handling disaster and building communities.

Mercy ship, homeported in San Diego, is a 894-feet-long ship and is out fitted to provide mobile acute and surgical medical services in disaster or humanitarian relief efforts.

The hospital ship has a team of medical professionals which include nine doctors, nurses, technicians and support staff that offers surgical specialists, internal medicen, radiology, dental and eye health services.

The Pacific Partnership which starts today until July 11 will hold series of medical, dental services including construction and repair of school buildings in poor villages of Camalig, Daraga, the cities of Legazpi, Tabaco and Ligao.

Miguel Gutierrez, Commander, Medical Corps, USN Director of Medical Operations and Planning, Pacific Partnership 2016 in an interview said thousands of poor villagers are expected to benefit from the medical and dental services of which 250 patients would undergo surgical services at the Mercy hospital ship docked at the Albay gulf.

Gutierrez said five local doctors from the Department of Health, the Provincial Health Office and the Legazpi City Health Office would assist nine USN doctors.

Surgical services offered include general surgery, hernia, bone realignment, cataract operations, cleft palate, including neuro and paediatric examinations.

For dental services the ship can accommodate 10 to 15 patients a day.

The humanitarian mission is expected to treat some 4,000 local patients on board and in designated areas in Albay.

Gutierrez said a joint team of doctors and medical personnel will also hold medical and dental engagement in poor communities in the cities of Ligao, Tabaco and Legazpi.

It will also hold symposiums on nursing care, blood banking and transfusion procedures, medicine administration and practices.

The Navy crew at the end of the medical mission would hand over the remaining medical supplies to the local government health units.

Phil. Army Lt. Col Baylon Aler of the Army Engineering Brigade in an interview said for the engineering component the joint team of engineers have started construction works of two-classrooms building with comfort rooms including repair works of other classrooms in barangays Cotmon, in Camalig, Kinawitan in Daraga and construction of a water tank and lavatory in Mabini Elementary school in barangay Mabini, Daraga all in Albay.

Rear Admiral Bruce Gillingham , US Armed Forces Counterpart, Phl-USNS Pacific Partnership Humanitarian Exercise at the event opening ceremony at the Albay Astrodome said the humanitarian exercise would side by side, shoulder to shoulder strengthen relationship between two nations.

“We are committed then as we are now to enhance our multilateral relationship to improve security and stability through partnership,” Gillingham said.

He claims that the thrust between our nation would provide learning experience from each other the skills, knowledge that would build capacity in strengthening the relationship of both nation.

Gillingham committed the 600 medical personnel of the Mercy ship in bringing medical dental health services “shoulder to shoulder” with the Philipine counterparts.

Pacific Partnership began in response to the December 2004 tsunami that devastated parts of Southeast Asia. Along with other nations the US deployed US Navy assets, including Mercy, which later returned to the region in 2006 for the first Pacific Partnership mission.

Outgoing Albay Gov. and newly elected 2nd District Congressman Joey Salceda and Legazpi Mayor Noel Rosal gave a warm welcome to members of the USNS Pacific Parnership humanitarian mission group.

Salceda said the province have played host to at least six PHL-US Humanitarian exercise among them was the two US navy warships USS Comstock, USS Peleliu, US Airforce Pacific engagements and two RP-US Balikatan military exercises where thousands of residents benefitted from the exercise.

As this developed Bayan Bicol on Monday staged a protest rally against the US Pacific Partnership, hundreds of militant activist march at the main streets of this city.

The rally was closely monitored by police anti riot units already positioned in possible areas where the militant Bayan Bicol would hold its protest action.(PNA) BNB/CBD