SHINILE ZONE, Ethiopia (Oct 26, 2010) - Nursing students of the Arts Medical College of Dire Dawa, Ethiopia with assistance from the U.S. Army 418th Civil Function Specialty Team (Fx SP), Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA), distributed medications to more than 900 children in seven remote villages during the second phase of a Medical Civic Action Program (MEDCAP) to improve health conditions in the Shinile Zone (Woreda).

Medications distributed in the second phase were tailored to the results of parasitological testing of samples that were collected from children in the area during the first phase of the Shinile MEDCAP. Children were treated for Schistosoma mansoni and hookworms, parasitic worms that cause dysentery, dehydration, anemia and skin lesions.

"Part of the sustainability piece of these missions is the collaboration between our medical and nursing experts and the students," said Maj. Brad Franklin, Fx SP Nurse Practitioner. "Sharing experiences with the students helps guide the next generation of healthcare professionals in Ethiopia."

Franklin explained that the students would graduate in a year's time. The MEDCAP provided the students practical field experience to better prepare them for future responsibilities with a better perspective on how to treat patients with limited supplies and capabilities in rural situations.

"Most cases we've only read about and haven't seen," said Kadar Mohammed, one of the four nursing students. "Things like elephantiaisis and gout we only hear about in class. This experience will help us better care for the people that need it most."

In the third phase of the mission, more samples will be collected from the children of the Shinile Zone and tested for parasites. Data from all phases of the MEDCAP will be provided to the Ethiopian Ministry of Health to increase their capacity and awareness of the health status of the woreda.

MEDCAPs, like the engagement in the Shinile Zone, strengthen relationships that CJTF-HOA builds with its partner nations by contributing to the security of the area.

"The upshot [of the mission] is that healthier populations are more stable populations," said Staff Sgt. Douglas Rueff, 418th CA combat medic. "If the government can show it can provide basic services for the people, the people will feel more connected to the government and feel less sympathetic to extremist groups that come through the area. This helps the long-term view."