US Air Force Conducts First Medical Mission in St. Vincent, Providing Critical Healthcare Support

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U.S. Coast Guard Commander Jamie Collins, Senior Defense Official, U.S. Embassy Barbados, delivers remarks at the Financial Complex, Kingstown, during the Lesser Antilles Medical Assistance Team closing ceremony in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, March 12, 2024.

Under the leadership of the U.S. Southern Command, the 12th Air Force (Air Forces Southern) has successfully carried out its inaugural Lesser Antilles Medical Assistance Team (LAMAT) mission in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, running from March 4 to March 12. This significant operation marks a pivotal moment in providing medical assistance and strengthening ties between the U.S. and the Caribbean nation.

During the intensive 10-day mission, the dedicated LAMAT personnel managed to treat over 500 patients, delivering an estimated $800,000 worth of free medical care. Additionally, they supplied local healthcare facilities with medical supplies valued at $186,000, further bolstering the region’s medical infrastructure.

The initiative was warmly received by St. Vincent’s healthcare officials. Cuthbert Knights, the Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Health, Wellness, and the Environment, expressed profound gratitude for the assistance and resources brought by the team. Dr. Simone Keizer Beache, the Chief Medical Officer of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, highlighted the country’s resilience and the importance of collaborative efforts in healthcare.

The LAMAT mission is designed to foster cooperation between the U.S. and partner nations while preparing Air Force personnel for deployments in challenging environments. The mission’s impact extended beyond immediate medical care, as U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Maria Arcilla noted the team learned valuable lessons in resourcefulness and problem-solving from their counterparts in St. Vincent.

A notable achievement of the mission was the performance of St. Vincent’s first knee arthroscopy surgery by the LAMAT orthopaedic team. This advanced procedure allows for diagnosing and treating joint problems through a minimally invasive technique, marking a significant advancement in the country’s medical capabilities.

The mission was celebrated as a symbol of the strong partnership between the United States and St. Vincent and the Grenadines, with U.S. Coast Guard Cmdr. Jamie Collins emphasizing the promise of continued collaboration and the growth of bilateral relations.

The LAMAT 2024 mission has significantly impacted the region, treating over 2,200 patients in Suriname, St. Lucia, and St. Vincent, with plans to extend support to St. Kitts and Nevis. This initiative showcases the U.S. commitment to healthcare and partnership within the Caribbean, paving the way for future collaborative efforts.

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