Medical outreaches (also known as health outreach programs) are programs that involve mobilized health workers who provide various health services to either a population or health workers within that population. These outreaches usually take place in countries/locations that aren’t native to the mobilized health workers. The outreaches mostly serve populations that have limited access to preventive and primary care and tend to focus on groups with a higher disease burden compared to the general population.
Medical outreach teams usually consist of a diverse community of medical professionals and students who willingly volunteer their time, skills, and resources. In order for these teams to carry out impactful and sustainable programs, it is important that the goals and objectives of the outreach are clearly defined and can be obtained within the current health infrastructure of the country in which they are working in. The general goal of all medical outreach teams is to engage and collaborate with the community and avoid learned helplessness and external dependency.
To avoid the incidence of external dependency, it is important for medical outreach teams to join hands with active members of the local community that have knowledge of the country’s health infrastructure and have worked closely with the target population. Such partnerships and collaborations allow for the empowerment of the community and help ensure that teams are working alongside the community and not giving off the sense that members are simply recipients of aid.
According to an article by John Wilson (2012), in order for teams to carry out impactful and sustainable programs, they must be educated before, during, and after on how the “sociopolitical context of a partner community affects its predominant medical problems” and how they can “identify evidence-based solutions “. In other words, teams need to be educated on local culture and history in order to share culturally appropriate health education to the community. Education within the community allows for the avoidance of learned helplessness. Outreach teams should include programs that further train local health professionals and must work alongside these individuals to help them develop long term goals and strategies that will improve the overall health outcome of the local community.
There are two main models that are often used in outreach programs when focusing on empowering the local community, Community Health Workers and Popular Education. These two models have shown time and time again that they are the most effective way to improve the health outcomes of individuals, communities, and populations receiving service from medical outreaches. In general these models allow outreach teams to provide informal counselling and social support, support ongoing disease self-management skills, and facilitate community organizing and empowerment. These models also ensure that teams are creating long-term goals that will continue to have impact on the community once the team has left.
Medical outreaches are one of the most important components of global health and they play major roles in improving and increasing the scope of health care around the world. Through various programs such as health education, primary health screening, and case management, the health outcomes of individuals, communities, and populations can be improved both directly and indirectly.
One of our goals here at HLH is to eventually send team members down to Guatemala to work alongside our partners through medical outreach programs. Our organization understands the importance of building relationships with the Guatemalan community and working with local health workers and organizations on ground. We believe that collaborating with these incredible groups is what allows us to carry out our mission and combat issues of child malnutrition and drug shortage in Guatemala.
There are so many ways that you can join us and our partners’ in our fight and effort to make sustainable and impactful changes in the health of Guatemalans. You can share our message, volunteer your time, or donate. Every little bit brings us one step closer to providing enough vitamins and various medical supplies to our partner clinics and schools in Guatemala. To learn more, visit littlebeats.ca !
Together we can make an impact on the health of the nations and the generations to come.
The mission of HLH is to increase accessibility to medications and supplies for healthcare facilities in Guatemala. If you are interested in hearing more about the work we are doing, or in connecting with us, you can visit our website, check out our instagram or facebook, or sign up to receive our newletters. If you would like to support us in our work, please donate here.