Home' Navy News : September 30th 2010 Contents Professional Education Courses
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September 30, 2010
AUSTRALIA'S largest contribution to the
US-led humanitarian assistance mission,
Pacific Partnership 2010 (PP10), ended in
mid-September in Papua New Guinea.
More than 300 ADF personnel par-
ticipated in the mission, providing health
and dental care, as well as completing 22
engineering projects such as school build-
ing restoration and drilling and developing
water wells across five countries over four
US Navy CAPT Lisa Franchetti, PP10
Mission Commander, commended the
ADF's contribution, particularly HMAS
Tobruk, which was the first RAN ship to
act as command platform during the last
leg of the mission to PNG.
"The PNG mission was a huge success
and the reason for that lies with Tobruk's
crew -- their commitment and hospitality
was unwavering," she said.
ADF support to Pacific Partnership 2010 ends
Reflections in Pakistan
LEUT Joel Hissink is a medical officer working with the
Navy Primary Health Care team on Operation Pakistan
Assist II. He took time out from his busy schedule to
share his experiences with the rest of the RAN.
Iknelt next to the father and boy
with my hand rested on the boy's
back, gently patting him to sleep.
The boy, named Ahmed and 18
months old, was exhausted. He was
cradled in his father's lap folded in
half awkwardly, but comfortably as
infants do. His weary eyes opened
from time to time to reassure himself
that his father was still there.
They had walked 5km through
the 40 degree heat to seek our help
at the Camp Cockatoo Health Centre
in Kot Addu, Punjab Province,
Pakistan. The centre has been estab-
lished by the co-led AusAID and ADF
Australian Medical Task Force as part
of Operation Pakistan Assist II, com-
manded by WGCDR Ross Wadsworth.
As a medical officer in the Navy I
am here as part of the Navy Primary
Health Care Team, which includes a
nursing officer, LEUT Adrian Gantley,
and two medics, LSMED Leona
Nichols and ABMED Charlene Knight.
There are three other ADF PHCTs
and four AusAID PHCTs. We are all
working together, supported by a great
team of engineers, logisticians, com-
municators and operations staff, to
provide primary health care to some of
the millions of Pakistani people affect-
ed by the July flooding. In the Kot
Addu region there are 800,000 people;
many of whom were displaced by the
It is a common dream among medi-
cal professionals to provide health care
for those most at need in a humanitar-
ian crisis and I feel very privileged
to serve the people of Pakistan as a
This operation is unique in that it is
the first time the military and AusAID
health professionals have worked
together in the same facility. It is an
arrangement that has significant ben-
efits, such as the ability to utilise a
diverse and very experienced team
pooled from all over Australia.
I have been impressed by how
well we all work together. The Health
Centre operates smoothly and effi-
ciently and sees as many patients per
day as emergency departments in
Australia's largest hospitals.
The medicine, however, is vastly
different. The background disease bur-
den is great and the flooding has exac-
erbated many pre-existing conditions.
We've seen significant malnutrition,
malaria in increasing numbers, diar-
rhoeal illnesses and many skin and
IMPORTANT WORK: Medical
officer LEUT Joel Hissink
assesses the breathing diffi-
culties of a Pakistani girl, Noor
Fatimah, in the Australian
Health Centre in Kot Addu,
Photo: CPL Chris Moore
eye infections. We are using humani-
tarian medical kits provided by the
World Heath Organisation and, while
the care we are providing is simple, it
has already proven to be life saving.
One of the largest causes of mortal-
ity in these crises is severe dehydration
caused by acute watery diarrhoea. The
provision of clean water, simple med-
ications and structured re-hydration
protocols can lead to a rapid recovery
avoiding an otherwise fatal outcome.
These are significant achievements.
They are professionally and personally
rewarding and we are seeing young
children with this condition everyday.
The challenges in establishing a
field health centre in this environment
have been considerable and we are
learning a great deal.
Most days have been oppressively
hot, peaking at 43 degrees, with 80
per cent humidity and not a breath of
wind. The whole task force has worked
tirelessly to create a camp that now
includes showers, phones, email and
an air conditioned recreation tent.
Fresh rations and care packages from
home have also started arriving. These
comforts all assist in achieving our
mission of providing primary health
care and our care is being received
very warmly by the Pakistani people.
As I knelt in the medical tent gently
patting little Ahmed, I thought of my
21-month-old son at home and I hoped
that he would one day understand that
this little boy needed me at that time.
Ahmed was soon peacefully asleep
on the lap of his caring and concerned
father. His blood test results revealed
he had malaria. We had medicines for
him and under the care of his fam-
ily I knew he would recover quickly. I
warmly smiled at his father and quiet-
ly reassured him by saying "sub theek
hae" -- everything will be okay.
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