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Psychiatry and Mental Health Research

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Best Practice Guidelines for Short- Term Medical Missions (STMMs): Perspectives From Host Countries

Author(s): Jaroslaw J. Fedorowski

Short-term medical missions (STMM) have become increasingly popular among healthcare professionals of all disciplines and experience levels. It is estimated that volunteer teams travelling from the U.S. to low and middle-income countries (LMICs) spend upwards of $3.7 billion in annual expenses (Caldron, 2016). While these missions can provide significant benefits to patients and invaluable experiences to practitioners, the relatively uncoordinated and unregulated nature of such practices has raised questions about their overall effectiveness, longer-term impact, and potential consequences. The Partnership for Quality Medical Donations (PQMD) launched the Healthcare System Strengthening/Medical Missions Initiative (HSSMM), a 3 -year project, which aims to improve the practice of STMMs to better support and strengthen local healthcare systems. With well-researched and an improved framework for best practice medical missions can better help address longer- term needs and contribute to improved health outcomes in host communities, in LMICs. High quality, inclusive and reciprocal partnerships with local healthcare providers and ministry of health officials are critical for open dialogue, trust and improved coordination.
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