Three Chilean military medical personnel will join the U.S. Navy hospital ship USNS COMFORT (T-AH 20) from November 16-December 20, as part of the ship’s 11-week humanitarian support mission to Central and South America under U.S. Southern Command’s Enduring Promise initiative. The Chilean personnel include two dentists and one nurse. Working with health and government partners in Colombia, Ecuador, Honduras and Peru, the embarked medical team is providing care on board and at land-based medical sites, providing medical assistance to vulnerable populations and helping to relieve pressure on national medical systems, which in many places are under severe strain from an increase in cross-border migrants, including Venezuelans.
The partnership with Chilean military medical personnel as part of this mission reflects the strength of the U.S.-Chile relationship, and demonstrates Chile’s role as a regional leader in addressing humanitarian crises. The Chilean team will join more than 200 U.S. and partner nation military doctors, nurses, and technicians. In addition, about 60 medical and dental professional volunteers from non-governmental organizations are on board to support the medical assistance mission. They are joined by a smaller team of civil service mariners who will oversee the ship’s operation and navigation.
Since departing from Norfolk, Virginia on October 10, the USNS Comfort has provided health and critical care services in Esmeraldas, Ecuador and Paita, Peru. The humanitarian mission will also visit Colombia and Honduras before returning to Norfolk in mid-December. Specific dates for each port visit are announced several days prior to the hospital ship’s arrival.
Health services provided in this year’s USNS Comfort deployment include general surgery, ophthalmologic surgery, dermatology, medical evaluation and treatment, preventive medicine, dental screenings and treatment, optometry screenings, eyewear distribution, and public health. Medical capabilities aboard the hospital ship include surgical and post-surgical rooms, a CAT-scan unit, four X-ray machines, a dental suite, an optometry lab, a physical therapy area, two oxygen-producing plants, and a 5,000-unit blood bank.
This mission marks the sixth time the hospital ship will provide medical assistance in the region and reflects the United States enduring promise of friendship, partnership, and solidarity with the Americas. The United States Southern Command-sponsored civic assistance and humanitarian missions are conducted in close cooperation with partner nations in the region as well as with interagency partners at the U.S. Department of State and USAID.