Medical Voluntourism needs a checkup

In (12/4) class, we were asked to look for possible solutions that could help with the problem about Medical voluntourism. This problem possesses an overlooked threat to emerging health systems in low and middle-income countries. The investors in global health systems should take action to implement solutions that will make medical voluntourism more beneficial for the volunteers, patients, and health systems. Students as young as high school students are often interested in the medical/health care field and encouraged to gain “real world” experience by volunteering to do medical work in developing countries through organizations. This practice entails untrained, uncertified, young students practicing directly on patients to a much greater degree than would be allowed at home or in their country. Unfortunately this is still being allowed in other countries, and people are unaware of the risks and damage that medical volunteerism brings.

Before taking this class, I wasn’t as aware about the issues and risks that came along with medical voluntourism. As I worked and spoke with other students in the class, we discussed several ideas or solutions that could be done to inform the public and stop this type of dangerous practice from happening in other countries. Something that I strongly believe could help this problem is having a certification component that goes along with volunteering in other countries. Certification components should require medical professionals to conduct training for students that plan to participate. Along with getting certified and being trained, students should present a project about their understanding of the healthcare system in which they participated, the ethics of their work, and future motivations/goals within the healthcare industry. If students were to accept these guidelines, they’d be more aware about the risks of medical voluntourism and less likely to go on these trips to gain something new to add to their resume. Overall, medical voluntourism is a challenging concept that others may not see a problem with, but the only thing that can be done is to inform the public about the pros and cons of such topic.

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