NEWS | June 17, 2021

U.S. Airmen bring medical care to Moroccan children

By Tech. Sgt. Annie Edwards Utah Air National Guard

U.S. Air National Guard medical providers brought pediatric care to local children at the Military Medical Surgical Field Hospital in Tafraoute, Morocco June 7-17 during African Lion 2021. 

The Airmen provided well-child checks, and basic pediatric care as part of the humanitarian civic assistance portion of AL21.

“Working in pediatrics is very rewarding,” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Nicole Christiano, a physician with the 146th Airlift Wing, California Air National Guard. “It can be difficult because children often times cannot vocalize what is wrong with them as well as adults can, but it is often relatively straightforward to treat and they get so happy.”

Seeing these children brought smiles to everyone’s faces, said Christiano.

U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Holly McLelland, a medic with the 151st Air Refueling Wing, Utah Air National Guard worked in pediatrics during part of the exercise. Although initially concerned that it would be sad or difficult to work with the children, McLelland said it ended up being one of her favorite sections of the field hospital.

“I got to help the children stay calm, said McClellan. “I was able to reassure the kids and help ease the parents’ anxiety as well.”

In addition to providing medical care, Christiano said she focused on education and preventative medicine while working in pediatrics. When treating patients, Christiano would discuss ways to maintain good health and hygiene in the home with the child’s parents. “There is so much we can do to assist the population with preventative measures.”

The African Lion Exercise gave the U.S. military medical providers the opportunity to work with their Moroccan counterparts to provide a humanitarian service while sharing knowledge and best practices.

“I have learned a lot from the Moroccan providers,” said Christiano. “They have been very generous with teaching us about the common diseases and maladies that occur here and how to treat them.”

African Lion 2021, U.S. Africa Command’s largest, premier, joint, annual exercise, was hosted by Morocco, Tunisia, and Senegal, 7-18 June. More than 7,000 participants from nine nations and NATO trained together with a focus on enhancing readiness for U.S. and partner nation forces. AL21 is multi-domain, null-component, and multinational exercise, which employs a full array of mission capabilities with the goal to strengthen interoperability among participants.