Indonesia: Uzbekistan pediatricians help Aceh kids too

Banda Aceh, Indonesia-Relief -- Five volunteer physicians from Uzbekistan are currently in Indonesia, caring for hundreds of suffering children who struggle to recover from the tsunami's aftermath. The Uzbek volunteers, Northwest Medical Teams International reported.

''This is the first international team ever deployed to a disaster by Northwest Medical Teams. They will serve a four-week assignment,'' said Northwest Medical Teams International in a statement on Monday,

Partnering with in-country staff and medical volunteers from the United States, the team provides primary healthcare and surgeries in hospitals, plus travels to isolated communities down the western coast of Sumatra to reach children and their families who have no access to medical treatment. The volunteers will also assess the need for future pediatric teams and other medical specialties.

''This is an historic collaboration between Northwest Medical Teams, the Uzbek government and the Indonesian Ministry of Health,'' says Bas Vanderzalm, president of Northwest Medical Teams.

''It's a huge step in building an international volunteer community, one that can work together to bring hope and healing to people who desperately need our help. We value the contributions of our Uzbek team and anticipate additional partnerships in the years to come.''

The Uzbek volunteers are graduates of Northwest Medical Teams EMS program, an innovative project that instructed 45 Uzbek medical workers in emergency response protocols. These workers in turn trained an additional 5,000 healthcare workers during the last three years.

Northwest Medical Teams volunteers also helped establish the first ER facility in the country, doing construction and providing critically needed equipment. The partnership has dramatically reduced deaths and disability rates by improving response times and emergency treatment.

Additional projects in Uzbekistan include orphanage assistance, micro-credit loans, reforestation and water supply improvements.

The Uzbek team -- all pediatricians at the Tashkent Pediatric Medical Institute -- includes Dr. Slava Beketovsky, Dr. Rustam Gulyamov, Dr. Botir Ismatov, Dr. Komil Khamzaev and Dr. Alexander Sichev. The volunteers will return to Uzbekistan July 13.