PARAMARIBO – The U.S. military’s Lesser Antilles Medical Assistance Team (LAMAT) completed its two-week mission in Suriname with a closing ceremony today at the Academic Hospital. From February 1st to 15th, the LAMAT team performed free surgeries at the Academic Hospital, provided free dental care at Stichting Jeugdtandverzorging (JTV), and shared best practices with their Surinamese counterparts.
At the closing ceremony, U.S. Ambassador Robert Faucher gave remarks praising cooperation between the medical teams of both countries and thanking them for their hard work.
Ambassador Faucher also thanked the Ministry of Health for facilitating LAMAT’s visit as well as the Academic Hospital and JTV for integrating the Team into their operations. He noted: “the opportunity to work together, especially to work together in person, is worth more than gold. Through this work, we have been able to motivate each other, and can help each other. And that is priceless.” He observed that the LAMAT mission not only built personal relationships, but led to a genuine exchange of knowledge and, most importantly, provided Surinamers with much-needed free medical treatment.
In a panel discussion following the formal portion of the ceremony, the LAMAT medical team and their Surinamese counterparts shared stories of their experiences and how they had worked together, as well as what they had learned. Said CPT Agnieska Jackson, a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist from LAMAT: “This was a phenomenal experience. We were very impressed with the staff in the operating room and how they overcome challenges, and we learned a lot. It was a great privilege and honor to be part of this mission.”
In total, the LAMAT medical team performed 40 surgeries, treated 78 Emergency Room patients, and provided care to 230 dental patients, mostly orphans, children in need, and people with disabilities. They also donated $105,000 USD in medications and medical/dental supplies. In addition, LAMAT repaired medical equipment, including two steam generator motors for sterilization machines, and even repaired flooring in the operating room.
As an ad hoc addition to the program, LAMAT dental providers joined JTV in opening a new dental care facility in Redi Doti and providing care to patients there.
LAMAT is part of the U.S. Southern Command’s (USSOUTHCOM’s) Enduring Promise mission. Its operations were coordinated with Suriname’s Ministry of Health and hospital medical directors to take advantage of additional operating room capacity without displacing Surinamese medical providers. U.S. medical professionals worked hand-in-hand with local doctors to ensure continuity of care following all surgical procedures.
The U.S. Southern Command is conducting a series of medical assistance operations in Suriname, Guyana, and St. Lucia to build partnerships, provide relief to overwhelmed medical facilities, and improve the region’s public health capacity.