07 January 2012

A Broader Community Health View for 2012


Friends,
In the New Year, it is appropriate to reflect on past accomplishments and mistakes as we resolve to make the future better.  As a result of personal experience and struggles, I offer the following health volunteerism resolutions for myself and all 2012 Health Volunteers:

1. Health volunteer assignments may be chosen by the volunteer but must be designed with the mission
    host's and recipients' input and blessing.

2. Advanced education of a health professional from a developed country doesn't automatically qualify
    that individual as an expert in an unfamiliar, impoverished area.  Success is only achieved through
    mutual learning.


3.  Plan to leave something behind; information, a new skill, health training, educational videos.  Shot-gun
     outpatient therapy only lasts until the last medication wears off and re-infection occurs.  Information is
     power.

4.  Pray for insight for yourself and for the health of your patients.

5. Youth need a healthy start in life.  Prepare to educate young mothers about nutrition and children
     regarding simple hygiene habits.


6. Never place duties above personal contact. The task, whether, eye surgery, neurosurgery, or hand
    washing education isn't as important as  establishing relationships. Trust fosters learning and collaboration.


7. Everyone has health knowledge from their culture.  Be a student of traditional medicine.  Some of it
    may be better than western solutions.

8. Weigh medical treatment decisions carefully, considering the poor's access to follow-up care and/or
    continuation of therapy after volunteers have left. Solutions must be location and culture specific.

9. Yearn to stay in touch with the community via your UM Host where you volunteer.  They need to
    know you care when you are absent and may have an Advance Number or an appropriate way to
    receive donations for ongoing help.

10. Empowerment should be the underlying goal while working in impoverished communities.

11. Acknowledge and reward each success achieved by the recipients of your service.

12. Remember you are not in control - God is.  Love others and collaborate together.

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