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US ship to provide medical help

Tuesday, October 28 2008

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PANMAN: Captain Walt Towns, of the United States Navy and commanding officer of the USS Kearsarge, tries his hand on the steel pan at a welcoming cere...
PANMAN: Captain Walt Towns, of the United States Navy and commanding officer of the USS Kearsarge, tries his hand on the steel pan at a welcoming cere...

The medical contingent of the visiting United States Ship (USS) Kearsarge will assist in unburdening the health system during its two-week stay in the country, Health Minister Jerry Narace said yesterday at the official welcoming ceremony of the ship.

Commodore Fernandez Ponds, and a contingent of officers from the ship were present yesterday at the ceremony held at the Arima Town Hall, Arima. The Kearsarge, along with various units, began humanitarian/civic assistance in Trinidad from October 25, as part of the Caribbean Phase of the project, Continuing Promise(CP) 2008. Ponds is the mission commander of the Endeavour, which is a six-nation mission costing approximately US $22 million.

In addition to providing free health care at the Couva and Arima District Health Facilities, members of the 1,500 contingent will conduct renovation works at the St Jude’s School for Girls in Belmont, the All in One Development Centre in Beetham Gardens and the Cyril Ross Nursery, Tacarigua. US Ambassador Roy Austin said the visit is a follow up to last year’s successful mission of the USS Comfort which also provided free health care to thousands of locals.

Narace, who was one of the dignitaries at the ceremony, thanked the mission for their presence in the country. He explained that the gesture was recognition of the close ties between Trinidad and Tobago and the United States.

The gesture is also significant, he said, considering Trinidad’s aging population which requires a large amount of focus on health care. “While the Government is working on developing the health sector, we recognise the need for service to our population which is largely an aging population. The visit of the USS Kearsarge will certainly ease the pressure at the various health institutions,” he said.

Arima Mayor, Adrian Cabralis welcomed the medical contingent yet again to Arima, inviting them to enjoy what Arima had to offer.

“Last time, we had members of the ship visiting the Arima market and they enjoyed the atmosphere there. This time I invite you to visit the Asa Wright Nature Centre, Aripo Heights, Blanchisseuse and other sites of interests. I invite you to go to parang, learn to dance the parang, I am sure there are those out there willing to teach you. Tomorrow Today is the celebration of the festival of lights, Divali. Your presence here is bringing light to the community and Borough.”

The CP medical contingent includes personnel from the US Public Health Service, Canada, Brazil, the Netherlands and non government organisations, Project HOPE and International Aid.

Navy Seabee Construction Battalion Maintenance Unit along with engineers from the Air Force’s fifth Civil Engineer Squadron Prime Base Emergency Engineer Force will conduct renovations at the named areas.

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