By Celeste Anna R. Formoso
Lt. Col. Yuri G. Pesigan feeding milk to children in Barangay Alimanguan, San Vicente during the RP-US Marines Medical and Dental Mission from October 15-18, 2009.
OVER 2,000 residents of four barangays in San Vicente town, northern Palawan benefited from the 4-day medical and dental mission carried out under the Philippine Bilateral Exercise 2009 (Phiblex) between the Marine Battalion Landing Team 8, Philippine Marines Corps (PMC) and the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), United States Marines Corps (USMC).
The beneficiaries were from barangays Alimanguan, Sto. Niño, New Canipo and Binga, San Vicente.
The residents were treated for common cough and colds, asthma, back and chest pains, wound infection from allergies, ear infection, and received dental services, which mainly involved tooth extraction.
Deworming pills, such as Mebendazole and Pyrantel, were also provided for children between 5-14 years old to treat soil-transmitted worm infestation, which causes a host of serious health problems, one of which is loss of appetite. The three most common soil-transmitted worms affecting children are roundworms, whipworms and hookworms.
Started on October 15 and ended on the morning of October 18, Lt. Col. Yuri G. Pesigan, commanding officer of the MBLT 8, said San Vicente, which has more than 6,000 residents dwelling in rough and rugged high points of land and coastal terrains, was chosen as venue of the civil military operation (CMO) and humanitarian activity as it is where they are needed most due to its inaccessibility to government health services.
Likewise, it is an area where the communists are trying to infiltrate, exploiting the issue of government inability to support the needs of the people.
The RP-US Marines Medical & Dental Mission was able to provide free medical and dental services to over 2,000 residents of four barangays in the northern town of San Vicente. (Photo taken by Shannah Villegas)
Milk, congee feeding
Also part of the RP-US Marines civil military operation were the congee and milk feeding projects facilitated by the Puerto Princesa Kiao and Puerto Princesa Peacock, Inc. of the Junior Chamber International Philippines (JCIP or Jaycees), a worldwide federation of young professional leaders.
The feeding projects were done to help alleviate children malnutrition in the four barangays by stressing the importance of healthy eating habits, and drinking milk that can provide calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, protein and several other beneficial nutrients in varying quantities.
During the four-day medical mission, it was noted that most children treated suffer from malnutrition, which is by far the biggest contributor to child mortality.
On October 18, the annual Phiblex between the Philippines and the United States ended in Barangay Inagawan.
Designed to build up interoperability, increase readiness and to continue professional relationships between the RP and US Armed Forces, the Phiblex 2009 had Sailors and Marines doing bilateral amphibious landing on Inagawan Beach for about a week.
The Sailors who participated were from the amphibious dock landing ships USS Harpers Ferry (LSD 49) and USS Tortuga (LSD 46) with Marines from the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) that arrived on October 14.
The Phiblex was done under agreements signed by the Philippines and the United States in the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA).