Bosnia health centers benefit from U.S. medical supply excess
August 15, 2003
TUZLA, Bosnia and Herzegovina — Rather than seeing its excess medical supplies expire, Stabilization Force 13 Task Force Med Eagle donated the supplies to the local health center.
Medical staff at Eagle Base, forward operating bases Morgan and Connor, and Camp McGovern went through their inventory and came up with more than 60 different items nearing expiration.
The supplies, ranging from catheters and needles to tracheal tubs and gloves, would have been rerouted to other units in Europe, but more probably would have been destroyed if they were not donated, said Maj. Thomas Welch, the medical logistics officer with Task Force Med Eagle, which is nearing the end of its rotation in Bosnia.
American troops also delivered a box with more than a thousand doses of pediatric hepatitis A vaccine on Wednesday to Tuzla’s Institute for Public Health. The immunization was used by troops about two years ago during a Medical Civil Action Program for children in Maoca, near Camp McGovern, where an outbreak of hepatitis had occurred.
With multidose immunization where a follow-up shot is needed — as in this case — going back to the same children can be difficult.
But the local medical staff who participated in the MEDCAP noted the vaccine on children’s medical records and know who is due for the second round.
Instead of looking for the same children and having to organize another MEDCAP, the troops have turned over the vaccine to the local doctors, allowing the parents to bring the children in at their convenience.
“This is one of the ways we can provide long-term care for kids,” said Task Force commander Dr. Col. Daniel Dire, who also holds a pediatric emergency medicine position.
All the supplies had to be first turned over from the Department of Defense to the State Department, which is the U.S. Embassy in the country, and which can allow the donation.
Ademir Ahmetovic, an epidemiologist with Tuzla’s Institute for Public Health who received the vaccine, said his clinic does not have that type on stock, because it is not a part of the required immunization and because it is very expensive.
And though there are currently no outbreaks that require immunization, the vaccine will be sent to the first place that shows a need for it.
“We think the vaccine donation will come in handy considering that virus hepatitis A is a disease that we meet with quite frequently,” Ahmetovic said.