Comfort Starts Providing Medical Assistance in Panama Following Opening Ceremony


COLON, Panama (NNS) -- Host nation government officials, partner nation representatives and senior leadership from the hospital ship USNS Comfort (T-AH 20) attended an opening ceremony to mark the beginning of the ship’s medical mission in Colon, Panama Aug. 7.

The purpose of the mission is for U.S. service members and medical professionals will work alongside partner and host nation medical specialists to provide medical assistance and help relieve pressure on health systems strained by the Venezuelan migration crisis.

The ceremony signifies that medical sites are fully operational and will treat hundreds of patients during its mission.

“Since Panama took its first steps as a republic, we’ve had the U.S. helping us in the health system,” said Republic of Panama Vice Minister of Health Luis Francisco Sucre. “What better way to strengthen the bonds between the people of the U.S. and the people of Panama by providing health care and good quality of attention to all of our population.”

The Comfort team consists of more than 900 personnel, including military, non-governmental organization volunteers and personnel from partner nations.

“As brother countries we reflect our alliances with Panama and Latin America,” said Capt. Matthew Turner, defense cooperation officer in Panama. “Panama is a key partner to take on regional issues. We are happy to take the challenges of health issues side by side.” This marks the fourth Comfort visit to Panama and the seventh to the region since 2007. The embarked medical teams will provide care aboard Comfort and at two land-based medical sites.

This mission stop is part of the U.S. Southern Command’s Enduring Promise initiative and reflects the United States’ ongoing commitment to friendship, partnership and solidarity with partner nations in the Caribbean, Central America and South America. It is also an invaluable opportunity to learn from other partner nations.

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