ARMY medics from Gosport are saving lives in Kenya on a deployment designed to test their skills and make a difference.
Doctors, nurses and combat medics from 33 Field Hospital are taking part in an exercise in the African country which sees them setting up health clinics in remote areas.
The idea is to provide the level of care a GP surgery would provide — but some more urgent cases have seen the doctors saving lives.
This week The News joins the soldiers as they travel around the country helping villagers who have little or no access to healthcare.
From chronic dental problems to dehydration and malnourishment, the medics have been put to the test as they work from mobile health centres set up in tents in different locations ranging from desert to tropical.
Lieutenant Colonel David Woodward, the commanding officer of 33 Field Hospital, said: ‘I am extremely impressed by how well everyone has adapted to the working conditions and environment.
‘The exercise combines training for contingency with defence engagement.
‘It provides an excellent opportunity to take medical skills and translate them into a completely different environment for very different patients.
‘As well as having a very experienced team, we also have young soldiers who are experiencing a different environment for the very first time.’
The medics have split themselves into three troops and travel across the country in vehicle convoys carrying tents and equipment. A British Army base called Batuk is used as the unit’s headquarters for the operation.
It is based in Nanyuki, around 124 miles north of Nairobi. The clinics are being set up in different locations every few days, giving as many people as possible the chance to be seen for medical help.
The exercise is testing communications, transport, recovery and resupply as well as providing clinical experience for the medics.
Soldiers are working alongside the Kenyan Army, Kenyan Medical Services, Population Services Kenya and Kenyan Red Cross.
As well as providing healthcare and dental care, they are working to educate Kenyans on how to better look after themselves.
This includes handing out toothbrushes, contraceptives to prevent the spread of HIV and other diseases and water purification tablets to provide clean drinking water.
Many of the patients are unable to get access to regular care due to the isolated conditions in which they live.
The News has joined 33 Field Hospital in Kenya to witness the medics at work.
As part of a series of special reports, there will be stories throughout the week reporting on their actions and the people they encounter.