San Diego, California - U.S. Navy doctors recently returned from a month-long humanitarian mission along the Amazon River in Brazil.
The doctors were working with the Brazilian Navy aboard the NAsH Soares de Meirelles (U21), a Brazilian riverine hospital ship, delivering healthcare to remote communities along the river. These communities include some of the most isolated people in the world, and for many of them, missions like this one provide access to healthcare the populations would not otherwise receive.
According to Lt. Cmdr. Nehkonti Adams, the U.S. team leader, the collaboration accomplished three objectives. The primary objective was to provide healthcare to the riverine population along the Amazon River. The team also took time to exchange professional knowledge and to look for ways to continue medical collaboration between the two countries in the future.
In addition to the professional value of the collaboration, Adams discussed the significance of the mission to the people it served.
"These people are subsistence farmers," Adams said, speaking of the riverine population. "The parents in the family are productive, so if one of them becomes ill, that's a major setback for the family."
Adams said that the mission was both a success and a great experience.
"If I could use a phrase to best summarize it," said Adams, "I would say 'bright beginnings.' Medicine is medicine, whether it's in Brazil or in the United States. It's very easy to exchange information, and it's been great to work with the Brazilians. They'll be best friends with you in one day."