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Kiwis helping Pacific medical mission

United States Naval Hospital Ship (USNS) MERCY (photo courtesy of US Navy)
United States Naval Hospital Ship, USNS MERCY (photo courtesy of US Navy)

30 July 2010

Six New Zealand Defence Force personnel are embarked on the United States Naval Hospital Ship (USNS) MERCY for Pacific Partnership 2010, an annual exercise that travels the Pacific nations to provide medical and health assistance.

The Kiwis are among 1042 people on board, made up of military and civilian personnel from across the world, whose roles include training and equipment repair, engineering, veterinary support and medical, dental and surgical support.  The ship has so far visited Cambodia and Vietnam, and has recently arrived in Indonesia where the Kiwis have come aboard. The ship will then sail to Timor-Leste. 

The New Zealanders are from the Royal New Zealand Navy and New Zealand Army and include Lieutenant Commander Kerry Climo (Medical Administration Officer), Major Jim Josephs (Environmental Health Officer), Major Paul Kendall (Pharmacist), Captain Debbie Crombie (Operating Room/Recovery Nurse), Captain Nicola Martin (Dietician) and Corporal Amy Kelly (Dental Hygienist).

Major Jim Josephs has been on the island of Tobelo, taking water samples for analysis and using ‘Acoustic Mosquito Larvicide’, a new technology that destroys mosquito larvae in water by using pulses of intense sound energy.

“I’m thoroughly enjoying the experience here, especially the opportunity to work with such a broad range of subject matter experts – the people who are actually conducting the current research. To be a part of this and have the opportunity to give and receive new and relevant health information is pretty unique,” said Major Josephs.

Lieutenant Commander Kerry Climo is co-ordinating the Medical Operations Team, ensuring that patients, staff, crew and medical equipment gets to and from the ship.

She was able to take part in a community service project including a visit to Rumah Sejahtera Orphanage and played in a soccer game with local Indonesian citizens.“

"It’s been a lifelong desire of mine to visit and serve at an orphanage.  The soccer game shows that play is a universal language that is spoken by all people, young and old. There’s no need to exchange words, we all seem to completely understand each other while playing,” said LT CDR Climo. 

 “These events enrich the quality of partnerships.  Working alongside each other is the key to success on a mission such as this.  All boundaries disappear as soon as you realize that this is not about you, it’s about the children you are serving.”

The Kiwis will return to New Zealand in early August.

ENDS

For more information phone Nicole Munro, Defence Communications Group, 021 569 148.

There are currently 714 New Zealand Defence Force personnel deployed on 14 operations, UN missions and defence exercises around the world.


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