Solutions to Medical Voluntourism

As my last blog post (can’t believe I am writing that) I would like to reflect on a topic that has been discussed many times throughout this semester, Medical Voluntourism. As part of our class collaboration for the Final Course Statement, we addressed the issue of medical voluntourism and unpacked solutions to this matter. Volunteers are attending these trips for the wrong reasons of hoping to mix medical experience with traveling to different exotic locations. 

A few weeks ago I posted my thoughts about medical voluntourism and again it is not the notion of wanting to volunteer to help others seen as the problem, but rather the attempt to practice medical procedure without the proper qualification/training on these underdeveloped communities.

Some examples of solutions to assure the volunteers are behaving ethically while abroad is to start off by having mandatory workshops, proper training and facilitated sessions should be required in these programs prior to the trip that gives out a guideline of what they can and cannot do. That way those students can understand the ramifications of their actions can have on the communities they engaged with. During these prior sessions, volunteers should also be educated more about the culture and the people, so their time can be more of use. One way to do this is by having a local citizen to visit the sessions and discuss the problems that volunteers could use help with. Thus the notion, “help me, so I can help you” is truly being met. Overall, I strongly believe medical voluntourism has the potential to benefit these communities if volunteers take the necessary precautions prior to the trip.

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