Hawaii Airmen to deliver health care to Fiji

Lt. Col. Mylene Huynh and Capt. Kari Stone inspect their gear loaded on a C-17 Globemaster III while preparing to depart on a mission to Suva, Fiji from Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii on June 14, 2006.  Lt. Col. Huynh and Capt. Stone work for Pacific Air Forces International Health Affairs. PACAF medical experts will train military members and participate in a health care outreach program in Fiji. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Chris Vadnais.)

Lt. Col. Mylene Huynh and Capt. Kari Stone inspect their gear loaded on a C-17 Globemaster III while preparing to depart on a mission to Suva, Fiji from Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii on June 14, 2006. Lt. Col. Huynh and Capt. Stone work for Pacific Air Forces International Health Affairs. PACAF medical experts will train military members and participate in a health care outreach program in Fiji. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Chris Vadnais.)

HICKAM AFB, Hawaii (AFPN) -- Pacific Air Forces and 15th Medical Group Airmen left here on a health care mission to Suva, Fiji this morning. The team will train selected Fijian military leaders and participate in a humanitarian outreach program.

“We’re going to be working with the Fiji Ministry of Health and Fiji School of Medicine to reach out to the people,” said Lt. Col. Mylene Huynh, Mission Commander and PACAF International Health Affairs Preventive Medicine Physician. “We’ll all go out to the rural villages to deliver health care, so it’s a partnership,” she said.

The team will spend about twenty days in Fiji. The first part of their stay will be devoted to training military members and discussing health care with civilian medical officials. The final four days will be dedicated to outreach activities.

“From a military standpoint, it’s an opportunity to strengthen our partnerships with the Fijian army,” said US Army Col. (ret) Dale Vincent, Chief of Education Programs at the University of Hawaii’s School of Medicine.

“They’ve been great supporters of the United States in the Middle East, and this is an opportunity for us to go down and support them as they support the U.S.,” he said.

The military team from Hickam, which includes internal medicine, public health, and dental experts, stands to reap significant rewards from the short trip.

“I think we’ll learn a lot about their culture,” said Lt. Col. Huynh. “We’ll learn about different ways to practice medicine in a rural setting or in a remote setting where we don’t have our usual diagnostic tools,” she said.

The two University of Hawaii students have just completed their first year of medical school.

“I think it’s going to be a terrific experience for them,” said Col. Vincent. “This will be one of their first great experiences in clinical medicine,” he said.

“It’s important for them to understand that humanitarian work is an important part of the military,” said Lt. Col. Huynh. “Hopefully they’ll get this sort of planted in them early on to ignite an interest for international health.”