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Italian Battle Group offers helping hand

By Sgt. Kerensa Hardy
First published in
SFOR Informer#111, April 18, 2001

Sokolac - Members of the Italian Battle Group delivered a load of much-needed medical supplies to a medical treatment facility in Sokolac March 27.
This humanitarian effort was spearheaded by Italian Lt. Col. Giuseppe Bisogni, Sanitary Service director, and Lt. Col. Maurizio Zocchi, Italian Battle Group S5 officer.
"This is not the first time that SFOR has collaborated with the hospital," Dragan Cajic, hospital director, said through interpreter Vedrana Tais. "In the past, dental equipment was given."
The director expressed his satisfaction with all the help the Italian Battle Group has given and said he would like for the aid to continue.
During the visit, the director gave a tour of the facility to the members of the Italian Battle group. They were able to see what equipment had been donated from other countries, such as an X-ray machine from Japan. Cajic also informed them of equipment that was needed in certain speciality clinics.
For example, the Internal Medicine clinic still uses pre-war equipment because it can't afford to buy updated machines.
Currently the gynaecology/obstetrics department is the only one with overnight accommodations. All other departments only see patients on an outpatient basis. The hospital simply does not have the funds or the room to provide in-patient care as a whole.
State funds pay the salary of the hospital's 80 employees. However, Cajic said that no donations have come in for the past five months. So employees have not been paid and will not be paid until money becomes available.
In light of the current financial situation of the hospital, Cajic said he is extremely grateful for any donations. "What has been given to us will help us because we have nothing and need everything," he said. "Small things will be useful and it means a lot to us."
He said the hospital needs a new system of health and protection, but it needs money to do that. The ultimate goal is to provide more effective and improved health care to its patients. The staff currently treats between 300 and 400 people a day, most of whom are children. Forty percent of the overall number of patients are from areas outside Sokolac.

Related links: CIMIC
Nations of SFOR: Italy