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Year : 2005  |  Volume : 18  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 179-193

Successful Coupling of Community Attachment of Health Science Students with Relief Work for Drought Victims

College of medicine and Health Sciences, University of Gondar, Gondar, Ethiopia

Correspondence Address:
Yared Wondmikun
Deanís Office, P.O. Box: 196, Gondar
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

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Context: Recurrent drought is a major disaster affecting many countries. As a result of poor rain fall a major drought was forecast for Ethiopia in 2003. The country appealed for support to avert drought-related health problems. University of Gondar decided to respond to the appeal by sending students and staff to selected drought-affected areas. Objectives: To illustrate how an institution has turned the response to a natural disaster into a service-learning educational opportunity while maintaining equilibrium between the two. Methods: The drought relief response of the institute was twined with the regular teamtraining programme and academic schedule of senior health science students and 190 of them were transferred to deployment sites. Findings: Students provided support for the national effort of reducing drought-related morbidity and mortality by participating in multifaceted public health and relief activities, and fulfilled their regular learning objectives at the same time. Discussion: This project demonstrated the use of a natural disaster as a learning method to expose students to a more realistic array of health problems and human conditions. It also demonstrated the feasibility of addressing social responsibility, while fulfilling academic responsibility through community-based approach. Conclusion: Service-learning is a valuable learning method. Balancing the service and teaching objectives and maintaining the quality of both can be attained through careful twining of the objectives of both components.

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