Multinational forces train local health officials during cooperative health engagements

III Marine Expeditionary Force / Marine Corps Installations Pacific
Story by Lance Cpl. Jose Lujano

Date: 02.13.2013
Posted: 02.18.2013 09:08
News ID: 102160
Multinational forces train local health officials during cooperative health engagements

PHITSANULOK, Thailand - Thai health officials have been participating in crucial training during cooperative health engagements conducted at engineering civic assistance project sites throughout Phitsanulok province, Kingdom of Thailand, as part of exercise Cobra Gold 2013.

As the largest multinational exercise in the Asia-Pacific region, CG 13 provides Thailand, the U.S., Singapore, Japan, Republic of Korea, Indonesia, Malaysia, and observer nations, an opportunity to further develop military interoperability, relationships and the capability to solve regional challenges.

Similar to prior Cobra Gold exercises, cooperative health engagements provide an opportunity for U.S. service members to provide community members with free medical, dental and optometry care. Additionally, cooperative health engagements provide an opportunity for Thai and U.S. health professionals to share the best medical practices and discuss healthy living habits.
“During the first phase of each engagement, we were able to train community health officials about nutrition, preventive medicine, oral hygiene, environmental and maternal health,” said U.S. Army Lt. Col. Katrina D. Hall, assistant officer in charge of the CHE assigned to 168th Multifunctional Medical Battalion, 65th Medical Brigade, 8th Army.

Community health official learned about current procedures and practices enabling them to disseminate this useful knowledge, according to Hall.

Multinational forces collaborated and gave classes on various topics ranging from rabies to the benefits of breastfeeding.
Many local citizens use dated procedures and remedies to treat their illnesses, according Punlert Silippalaka, a guest speaker at one of the CHE sites.

“That is why it is important that we keep passing on the teachings to one another, to end existing myths,” said Silippalaka. “Some community members still think the cure for rabies is by eating the liver of the infected animal that bit them.”

Community members are willing to move away from old beliefs and learn about proper healthcare, which leads to healthier living, according to Yupin Samran, a community health official.

“I am very grateful the (U.S.) militaries are providing the service and teaching our people the importance of proper healthcare—it helps our community thrive even after the exercise is over,” said Samran.

Cobra Gold, in its 32nd iteration, is a multinational exercise that promotes regional prosperity, security and cooperation among partner militaries.