PYEONGTAEK, Republic of Korea --
What do military rations, mosquitoes and chemical testing equipment have in common?
Preventive medicine. They’re tools the 51st Aerospace Medicine Squadron Public Health flight used Sept. 16, 2018 at the Pyeongtaek Health Festival to demonstrate Team Osan’s countermeasures to local diseases.
“We work very closely with our local counterparts, so we do everything from facility sanitation to health inspections,” said Maj. Earl Thomas, 51st AMDS Public Health flight commander. “They do the same thing off base. Our Songtan and Pyeongtaek health departments invited us to be a part of the health fair, so we get to work closely with our [Republic of Korea Air Force] counterparts.”
It is critical for the Osan Public Health team to work with local Korean health care professionals.
“Diseases don’t stop at the gate,” he said. “They pass back and forth, so what happens off base, happens on base. It’s an opportunity to come to the fair with the locals and explain some things we’re doing on the other side of the fence.”
The team used insect displays to teach booth visitors about local threats and how Public Health counters them. Visitors also tasted American military rations, known as meals, ready-to-eat (MRE), which was used as an example of countering a lack of suitable sustenance in austere environments.
Tech. Sgt. Michael Muya, 51st AMDS communicable disease element chief, joined Thomas at the festival booth.
“My goal is to communicate to the community what we do as far as preventive medicines, and have fun building relationships,” he said. “Public health is here to help if you have questions about any communicable disease because our goal is to prevent disease and disability before it happens, even before somebody goes to see a doctor.”
As partnerships between American and Korean health care professionals continue to grow, they’ll be better equipped to combat evolving diseases in the region.