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U.S. Air Force medical assistance mission concludes in Suriname

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Rachel Maxwell
  • 12th Air Force (Air Forces Southern)

Twelfth Air Force (Air Forces Southern) has completed its second Lesser Antilles Medical Assistance Team mission in Suriname, Feb. 28.

Forty-two U.S. Air Force active duty and reserve personnel embedded with Surinamese military and civilian medical institutions in an effort to collaborate and hone skills through mutual training and education, with the added and critical benefit of providing needed care for patients.

“Each of you has contributed to the health of the Surinamese people,” said Academic Hospital medical director, Lindy Liauw Kie Fa. “Be it directly in close contact with them, literally hands-on, or indirectly through operating our equipment, helping with the logistics of getting supplies to the areas they were needing, or the exchange of experience through training and educational sessions.”

The nearly two-week U.S. Southern Command backed operation saw Air Force medics treat approximately 1,500 patients. The mission concluded with a total of 500 dental visits, 131 emergency room encounters, 320 optometry visits, and 159 hours of education, mutual discussions and seminars.

U.S. Air Force Col. Brian Neese, AFSOUTH surgeon general, described LAMAT as a dream realized. “When I look around this room right now, I truly see friends,” said Neese during the mission’s closing ceremony. “Certainly our heart is here in Suriname and we thank each of you for having us.”

To help ensure the continuity of care long after the mission has ended, additional attention was provided to the repair of existing medical equipment and the delivery of supplies, valued at $250,000.

“Our healthcare workers everyday in their job are being creative and trying to support and help our people try to give the best care with available resources,” explained Dr. Amar Ramadhin, Suriname minister of health. “But amongst these challenges, your support gives us relief.”

“I think based on experiences which we have all created here in the past 10 days, it is not a dream - it can be fulfilled.”

Speaking in both Dutch and English, the U.S. Ambassador to Suriname, Robert Faucher, touted the success of LAMAT within the region, promising its continuation. “We’re not just going to repeat the success that we had this year, we are going to exceed it in the following missions.”

More medical assistance missions are planned for LAMAT 2024, with St. Lucia already underway. Additional teams are set to support St. Vincent this coming week, with plans for St. Kitts and Nevis running through the end of March.