How Can We Make Medical Missions More Sustainable?
Are medical missions truly effective? Well, sometimes! We believe the question is really asking “are missions sustainable? Our answer? Well, that also depends!
“Sustainability” has been popping up in the news a lot lately. It refers to the improvement or defense of something – and most crucially, keeping it that way. We typically hear this term in the context of the environment, but sustainability can be particularly edifying for the medical field as well.
The fight to provide reliable access to quality healthcare is no easy feat. That’s why we must approach the issue uniquely and put sustainability at the heart of the solution. When we embark on a mission, we are focused on education. Rather than measuring the efficacy of missions with the number of patients treated, we should prioritize enriching communities with the medical resources to reach a state of self-sufficiency.
So how exactly can a medical mission be more sustainable? Our team focuses on two principal ways.
Train the Trainers.
We believe a sustainable medical mission should be – first and foremost – an educational experience. The mission acts as a catalyst for transformational learning for our team of international volunteers and the host country’s constituents. When visiting the mission site, we host tutorials for volunteers and participants alike to learn and grow. The result? Medical professionals who are empowered in their field and qualified to provide surgical care. The mission should not only serve medical purposes but educational ones as well. By bringing the operation room to the most remote places in the world, we can help medical professionals enhance the well-being of their community beyond the time of our visit.
Utilize Partnerships with Other Nonprofits
Our capacity to train the trainers is thanks in part to our partners. Sometimes it’s a matter of coordinating the mission site and sending volunteers; other times, our partners can provide us with their expertise on the region. Partnering with local nonprofits allow us to genuinely connect with the communities we visit, enabling us to serve these areas more effectively, and thus, sustainably.
A mission is only as sustainable as it is educational. We must actively embed medical infrastructure in the places we visit. The road to alleviating the global healthcare burden is, in essence, a row of dominos. Education is the first domino – all we need is just a little push.
Have more questions? Find out what our sustainable missions look like here.