Ghanaian views of short-term medical missions: The pros, the cons, and the possibilities for improvement

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Ghanaian views of short-term medical missions: The pros, the cons, and the possibilities for improvement


JournalGlobalization and Health
Article typeJournal research article
Publication date – Sep – 2021
Authors – Efua Esaaba Mantey, Daniel Doh, Judith N. Lasker, Sirry Alang, Peter Donkor & Myron Aldrink
Keywordshealthcare, short term medical mission, Volunteers
Open access – Yes
SpecialityHealth policy, Other
World region Western Africa
Country: Ghana
Language – English
Submitted to the One Surgery Index on October 4, 2021 at 4:13 am
Abstract:

Background
Various governments in Ghana have tried to improve healthcare in the country. Despite these efforts, meeting health care needs is a growing concern to government and their citizens. Short term medical missions from other countries are one of the responses to meet the challenges of healthcare delivery in Ghana. This research aimed to understand Ghanaian perceptions of short-term missions from the narratives of host country staff involved. The study from which this paper is developed used a qualitative design, which combined a case study approach and political economy analysis involving in-depth interviews with 28 participants.

Result
Findings show short term medical mission programs in Ghana were largely undertaken in rural communities to address shortfalls in healthcare provision to these areas. The programs were often delivered free and were highly appreciated by communities and host institutions. While the contributions of STMM to health service provision have been noted, there were challenges associated with how they operated. The study found concerns over language and how volunteers effectively interacted with communities. Other identified challenges were the extent to which volunteers undermined local expertise, using fraudulent qualifications by some volunteers, and poor skills and lack of experience leading to wrong diagnoses sometimes. The study found a lack of awareness of rules requiring the registration of practitioners with national professional regulatory bodies, suggesting non enforcement of volunteers’ need for local certification.

Conclusion
Short Term Medical Missions appear to contribute to addressing some of the critical gaps in healthcare delivery. However, there is an urgent need to address the challenges of ineffective utilisation and lack of oversight of these programs to maximise their benefits

OSI Number – 21280

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