U.S. Navy doctors recently embarked aboard the Brazilian Navy hospital ship NAsH Soares de Meirelles (U-21) and began a month-long humanitarian mission that will take them deep into the Amazon. These doctors will be working closely with the Brazilian Navy to deliver healthcare to some of the isolated peoples in the world.
According to Capt. William Scouten, the mission's medical planner, the participants hope that this will be the first of many similar endeavors.
"The purpose of this mission is to establish a long-range collaborative effort that will span over the many years to come," said Scouten. "The overall intent of this mission is to perpetuate a regular collaborative experience. This mission is a 'capstone' where medical practitioners can experience what they have learned in the classroom."
The U.S. Navy medical team includes specialists in internal medicine, general medicine, infectious disease and dermatology.
In addition to providing care to people in remote jungle villages, these doctors will work together to create a curriculum for delivering healthcare to resource-limited areas along the river.
"I am excited to swap cases at the end of each day and continuously learn about the environment that we will be in," said Scouten. "Also, learning new perspectives is always something that I look forward to, because sometimes, the way we do things...doesn't always translate well depending on the environment we are in."
The curriculum will be a "living" document. On future missions, Brazilian, U.S. armed forces and civilian clinical specialists will continue to collaborate on the program, altering it over time to address changes in disease prevalence, technology and educational priorities.
Capt. Scouten hopes that this mission will grow to include other countries and regional partners in the future. Increased readiness and strengthened relationships, however, are not the only benefit he expects from missions like this one.
"The long-range goal here is to provide the indigenous population with a broader array of healthcare that they might not have received otherwise," said Scouten. "Hopefully, with all the data that we have been able to collect and will collect, we could be able to identify specific pathologies, perhaps eradicating, or at least mitigating some of them."