By Master Sgt. Cohen A. Young
Defense Media Activity
Military doctors, nurses and medics from five countries came together to deliver general healthcare, optometry and dental services to a small suburb of Ulaabaatar, Mongolia from Aug 6-9, while participating in Khaan Quest 2011. A U.S. Marine led exercise, Khaan Quest is designed to strengthen the interoperability of U.S., Mongolian and other participating nations’ forces in humanitarian civil action projects and multinational joint peace keeping missions around the world.
The temporary clinic held inside the Buynt Uhaa Complex, has averaged at least 900 patients each day since the joint multinational team has been working, according to Lt. Col. John Boston, a native of Wasilla, Alaska and a member of 176th Medical Group, Alaska Air National Guard.
The exercise enables partner nations to become familiar with one another.
Khan Quest helps build relationships with the U.S., Mongolia and the other countries that are represented so that we may work better together in the future,” said U.S. Navy Cmdr. Steve Kriss, a doctor assigned to 3rd Marine Logistics Group, Camp Kinser, Okinawa, Japan.
More importantly than helping the multinational medical team become familiar with one another is the service that is provided to those in the community as they get treated.
“Access to care and education to care is sometimes different outside of the United States,” said Boston. “We’ve been seeing people that might not have had access to pediatric care or gynecology or ultrasounds technology”
The 3rd Marine Expeditionary Force has taken this medical outreach to another level. They aren’t just helping, but they are teaching and exchanging techniques so that the Mongolian healthcare system improves as well.
“The service that we are providing right now will only benefit the community for a short time,” said Criss. “We’re also providing training in areas that will endure and last long after we’re gone.”
The exchange in information has been in trauma care, combat injures and in some cases new equipment was introduced to some of the Mongolian doctors.
“I had the opportunity to use a tonometer, which measures the ocular pressure of the eye,” said Mongolian ophthalmologist Ms. Mirankhjin Naasantser. “We don’t use this kind of new equipment here at our hospital, but I can see the benefits if we had it at our disposal.”
Many of the translators at the clinic are doctors themselves, which makes it easy when medical terms need to be explained to the patient. The doctors were thrilled to be part of such a great exercise.
“It’s been an honor to work as a team with the MAF and U.S. doctors,” added Naasantser. “We’re learning from each other.
This exercise is about helping the host country improve on their medical practices, which is a huge benefit to all that are involved. The medical portion of Khaan Quest has participants from Canada, the Republic of Korea, India, the United States and Mongolia.
The medical portion will conclude on Aug. 11 and the overall exercise will end on Aug. 12 with a ceremony held at the Five Hills Training Area.