MedShare International
Established in 1998 with a mission of “bridging the gap between surplus and need,” MedShare International is an innovative nonprofit that brings medical equipment and supplies to the developing nations where they are needed the most. More than 2 million tons of medical waste are generated by hospitals in the U.S. every year. At the same time, 10 million young children in developing nations die every year simply because they lack access to proper medical care.

MedShare takes the steps necessary for eliminating that gap by collecting those supplies and delivering them to the developing world. To date, they have delivered in excess of $100 million in medical supplies to over 95 developing countries, making them one of the biggest nonprofit investors in health care in poor communities.

How does it work? Imagine you go to the hospital and need surgery. Your surgeon may not necessarily need all of the tools he is supplied for your operation, especially if there are no complications. However, FDA regulations prevent the doctor from using any of those supplies on another patient, even if they are still sterile and in their original packaging. MedShare collects these medical products and sorts, ships and distributes them. The best part? Medical centers in the developing nations MedShare serves can request certain supplies, allowing MedShare to customize shipments to fit those centers’ specific needs.

Making a concerted effort to attend to the medical needs of the poor is one of the most important steps to eliminating poverty. Illness prevents individuals from escaping poverty by precluding them from seeking or keeping employment, attending to the needs of themselves and their families and accessing other resources.

MedShare recognizes the link between poverty and health care and has been working for over 15 years to reduce the prevalence of the former by providing the tools necessary for the latter. Many medical centers in the developing world possess both the staff and the technical knowledge necessary to adequately treat illness, but lack the proper infrastructure or supplies. The equipment that MedShare provides has saved thousands of lives, and as an added effect, has also kept millions of tons of waste from being unnecessarily dumped into American landfills. One would be hard pressed to find a nonprofit that does more for the environment domestically and for health care abroad. MedShare is a true leader in both of these realms.

— Elise L. Riley

Sources: Health Poverty Action, MedShare
Photo: Good Health Blog