Written by Michael Suarez, GB Program Associate Manager
Let’s suppose you are in your room studying and a friend calls you and says “Hey, do you want to come on a Medical Brigade with me?” Now, I’m sure your first question would be why. Why should you participate on a Medical Brigade abroad? Is it worth it?
Here are 5 reasons why you should go to a Medical Brigade to make an impact!
1. The Community Impact
In countries such as Panama, Honduras, Nicaragua, Ghana, and Greece, many people find themselves living in communities that do not have a continuous access to affordable healthcare. This could be because of lack of funding to their local entities, lack of capacity, medication, doctors or they just don’t have the income to attend a clinic. In rural communities, there is a high percentage of people who have to walk many miles to the nearest clinic.
With your passion and the support of Global Brigades, your Medical Brigade will visit community partners to work side-by-side with community members and our local staff. Our medical clinics provide free access to primary healthcare to those who otherwise would simply not have the means to access it. You also have a huge opportunity to learn from a local doctor and dentist, see the health conditions and reality of country where your brigade takes place. By going on a Medical Brigade, you support Global Brigades’ #GB365 initiative and help our teams empower partner communities!
2. Connect With Partner Communities
Global Brigades continually works alongside community members. We do not provide a fast-fix relief and then abandon communities! Our Medical Brigade program has proven the ability to strengthen the relationship and build trust with partner communities. We want to be extremely respectful of who we work with and what their traditions are. Our Medical Program helps us get to know community members and prepares us for when the time comes to implement additional programs of our Holistic Model.
3. Cultural Exchange
Participating on a Medical Brigade creates an opportunity to experience a different culture. Within your own brigade, you will interact with people from many different backgrounds, cultures and ways of thinking. This exchange can provide you with different perspectives, views and generate insightful discussion on the current needs that communities may have, not necessarily in your brigade country, but in your own community. Your brigade experience can help build bridges and connections with other students that have the same interests as you.
4. Teamwork and Leadership Development
It is good to be challenged, and a Medical Brigade is the perfect way to test your leadership and teamwork skills. You will need to work closely with other volunteers and local staff members to set up mobile clinics, help on intake, and make sure that all patients are well taken care of. Communication will be key for the success of each brigade. You may discover leadership traits that you did not know you had. Are you up for the challenge?
5. Generate Social Innovation in Healthcare
Through the historical success of our Medical Brigades, GB has nurtured relationships with local and international non-profit and government agencies. In Panama, because of the impact that Medical Brigades have, Global Brigades won a grant with the NCSC (National Center for State Courts) to implement the medic mobile access platform. With this platform, our trained Community Health Workers can monitor and follow up on community members with chronic illinesses, pregnancy monitoring, and many others through an app. The information goes to the local clinics so when the patient arrives, there is historical, relevant data of the patient already in the system.
As you can see, there are many reasons to go on a Medical Brigade with the ultimate goal of empowering volunteers and community partners. We believe that our Medical Brigades are a stepping stone to resolve global health and economic disparities and will help inspire all the volunteers who are involved to collaboratively work towards an equal world. Interested in joining a Medical Brigade? Visit www.medicalbrigades.org to learn more!