“If you don’t have your health, you don’t have anything,” the old saying goes. Nowhere is this truer than countries where coughs and colds are lethal. People in the developing world experience 90 percent of the world’s disease but have access to only 10 percent of its healthcare. Medical professionals are forced to rely on the sometimes inadequate knowledge they have been armed with.
Physicians for Peace steps in only at the request of an institution in a developing country. After determining whether or not they can fill the need described, Physicians for Peace sends in a team to start their work.
A team is comprised of four healthcare specialists called International Medical Educators. The specialists discuss and develop the training curriculum to be taught on their 5-10 day stay. By keeping smaller numbers, members can cooperate effectively, and host communities are better able to provide for the volunteers.
As listed on their website, teams work in five main areas of healthcare: Burn care, maternal and child health, surgical care, vision care and prosthetic and orthotic care. The cornerstone of their efforts, though, is not the care itself. It is the training.
Healthcare professionals in developing nations are saving lives, but gaps in knowledge are responsible for harming many. Burn victims, for example, are often treated fro their wounds and sent home. With no one to mind the psychological effects of the experience, they are left to deal with the trauma alone. To get newborns to breathe, midwives in Nigeria will shake the child or turn him or her upside down. The effects can be severely damaging, even fatal.
The organization maintains that a little training will go a very long way. They are responsible for a lot of training. In 2013, more than 3,500 professionals attended Physicians for Peace lectures. Additionally, over 1,000 professionals received hands on training.
Though the Physicians for Peace headquarters is located in Virginia, it is truly an international effort. The organization has offices in both the Philippines and the Dominican Republic. Teams have worked in over 60 countries across Europe, the Middle East, Asia, Africa and Central America.
Programs are funded entirely by donations, so transparency is maintained in all business transactions. Over 91 percent of money received goes directly to field programs. Financial reports are published and posted annually.
The educational approach taken by Physicians for Peace to the healthcare shortage is necessary and brilliant. By helping one doctor, one nurse or one midwife, they are helping a great number of patients.