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March 23, 1994

Somalia: Medicine and the Military

Author Affiliations

University of Illinois College of Medicine Chicago

JAMA. 1994;271(12):904-905. doi:10.1001/jama.1994.03510360028024

To the Editor.  —Despite being out of the international spotlight, the civil war in Somalia continues to destroy the socioeconomic structure of the country. Warring factions have displayed persistent aggression against relief workers and have forced many organizations providing humanitarian assistance to leave the country. While US military personnel treated many Somali patients,1 we propose that the most significant medical contribution by military forces was the provision of security measures. This enabled nongovernment organizations to provide humanitarian aid and played a vital role in the delivery of medical assistance.We worked as members of a mobile medical team in urban and rural Somalia with Samaritan's Purse/World Medical Missions, an international medical relief organization. The clinics, staffed by four physicians and six nurses, treated 44563 patients in an 11-month period. Security issues were a major concern, and mobile clinics were designed to avoid the problems associated with permanent medical facilities,

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