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Albay province hosts Pacific Partnership 2016

LEGAZPI CITY, Philippines – Now on it’s eleventh year in providing humanitarian assistance and promoting common understanding amongst nations, the Pacific Partnership for Humanitarian Mission will be hosted by the province of Albay from June 27 until July 10, 2016.
Aimed in increasing multilateral cooperation for humanitarian assistance, the Pacific Partnership is the largest annual multilateral humanitarian mission conducted in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region by the United States and its regional allies. The missions are also intended to improve capacity and enhance regional partnership amongst friendly countries, like Indonesia, Timor Leste, Malaysia, and Vietnam.
For the Philippine leg of the humanitarian missions, the hospital ship USNS Mercy is expected to arrive in Legazpi City from Timor Leste on June 27, which will officially mark the beginning of the joint medical and civic engagements.
Arriving ahead of the others, the NSCB (USAF’s engineering and construction battalion) arrived in Legazpi City last May 20. As early as May 28, they have already begun their task of constructing facilities for local elementary schools in Albay; namely Comun Elementary School, Mabini Elementary School and Kinawitan Elementary School. Ribbon-cutting ceremonies for the new school buildings will be held on early July, when the high commands of the humanitarian personnel are present in the country.
Last June 14, the joint command of the Office of Civil Defense (OCD), Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), and other concerned agencies held a meeting to finalize and coordinate the medical, civic and solidarity activities with the USNS Mercy’s advance team headed by Lt. Rebecca Wolf.
Throughout the months of June and July of 2016, participants of the missions will be conducting subject matter expert exchanges (SMEE) and activities on medical development. These includes discussions concerning infection control, epidemiology, nursing, and emergency response.
The SMEEs will be hosted by Public Health Office, Bicol Regional Training and Teaching Hospital (BRTTH) in Legazpi City, Ziga Memorial Hospital in Tabaco City, and Josephina Belmonte Duran Memorial District Hospital (JBDMH) in Ligao City. Events also include trainings and workshops for basic life support and first responder courses.
Nursing skills workshop and surgeries would also be done on-board the USNS Mercy, with Filipino and American doctors and nurses working side-by-side. While the ship is anchored in Albay, selected patients could be brought on-board for treatment and guided tours of the hospital ship will also be made available to the Filipino counterparts.
To establish camaraderie between the nations involved, the joint command also included solidarity events like benefit concerts and engagement of the USNS Mercy’s band. Basketball and volleyball competitions were also organized between the AFP and the visitors.
A dental symposium is scheduled to be held at Ago Medical and Educational Center on July 10, which will be followed by a dental SMEE on-board the USNS Mercy.
By July 11, the hospital ship departs the country, along with all the humanitarian personnel, for the next leg of the missions in Vietnam.

Criselda Cabangon David, a happy mother of two kids, is a full-time Sociologist at the City Government of Lucena, Quezon Province. She is currently the Managing Editor of Ang Diaryo Natin Sunday News, a weekly local community newspaper in the Philippines and an active member of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines.