Dr. Tom Colletti
Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to determine the best approach to reducing global health inequalities through medical volunteerism. As a recipient of medical charity in Africa and now, a Physician Assistant (PA) in the United States (U.S.) with extensive experience in global health, this study will prioritize the impact of volunteerism on the host communities and the potential benefits to global health. The increased interest in medical volunteerism, mostly attributed to improved global communication, awareness of the health needs of impoverished nations, and better global travel logistics makes it imperative for individuals, institutions, and organizations to re-strategize on medical outreach missions.1 If the objective is to improve the overall health of the community through health education and preventive care, then a collaborative community partnership should be a priority. These partnerships could be vital in strengthening public health responses to future disease outbreaks and potentially slow the spread globally.
Method: A PubMed peer-reviewed literature search was conducted to identify all relevant information about best practices and guidance that could be utilized by organizers and participants of medical outreach missions. Reviews of these guidelines provide standards for ethical practice from which to plan and implement global health campaigns.
Results: The study included 64 peer-reviewed articles, with only 18 articles meeting the criteria for inclusion after a detailed review of abstracts.
Conclusion: The limited available literature shows that ethical concerns in short-term medical volunteering have grown tremendously over the last years, highlighting the need for appropriate guidelines.1 A focus on cross-cultural understanding, sustainability, academic partnership, preventative care, and an investment in health care infrastructures proves to be the appropriate path to achieving global health equity through medical volunteerism.
Atabong SZ. Beyond Charity: Improving the Impact of Medical Outreach Missions.. University of Lynchburg DMSc Doctoral Project Assignment Repository. 2021; 3(3).
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