Guidelines for responsible short-term global health activities: developing common principles
AuthorLasker, Judith N.
Loh, Lawrence C.
AffiliationUniv Arizona, Coll Med
KeywordsShort-term medical missions
Global health education
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherBIOMED CENTRAL LTD
CitationGuidelines for responsible short-term global health activities: developing common principles 2018, 14 (1) Globalization and Health
JournalGlobalization and Health
Rights© The Author(s). 2018 Open Access This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
Collection InformationThis item from the UA Faculty Publications collection is made available by the University of Arizona with support from the University of Arizona Libraries. If you have questions, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
AbstractBackground: Growing concerns about the value and effectiveness of short-term volunteer trips intending to improve health in underserved Global South communities has driven the development of guidelines by multiple organizations and individuals. These are intended to mitigate potential harms and maximize benefits associated with such efforts. Method: This paper analyzes 27 guidelines derived from a scoping review of the literature available in early 2017, describing their authorship, intended audiences, the aspects of short term medical missions (STMMs) they address, and their attention to guideline implementation. It further considers how these guidelines relate to the desires of host communities, as seen in studies of host country staff who work with volunteers. Results: Existing guidelines are almost entirely written by and addressed to educators and practitioners in the Global North. There is broad consensus on key principles for responsible, effective, and ethical programs-need for host partners, proper preparation and supervision of visitors, needs assessment and evaluation, sustainability, and adherence to pertinent legal and ethical standards. Host country staff studies suggest agreement with the main elements of this guideline consensus, but they add the importance of mutual learning and respect for hosts. Conclusions: Guidelines must be informed by research and policy directives from host countries that is now mostly absent. Also, a comprehensive strategy to support adherence to best practice guidelines is needed, given limited regulation and enforcement capacity in host country contexts and strong incentives for involved stakeholders to undertake or host STMMs that do not respect key principles.
NoteOpen access journal.
VersionFinal published version
SponsorsLehigh University [NA]
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