“What Can I Do to Help?”
Posted by chads on November 4, 2006
I have been asked that question multiple times, and I have asked myself that question many times. Once one comes the the conclusion that the current global health situation must be changed, the next step can be quite daunting. Since I do not know your level of commitment, amount of free time, political or moral philosophy, or previous experience, I cannot give specific recommendations. There are, however, a few couple pieces of advice that apply to everyone (myself included), and I am convinced will make a difference:
1. Consider your motivations. Why do you want to get involved in global health? Be honest with yourself. While everyone probably has several motives, any motivation other than improve health has the potential to distract from that end. Is it to fulfill a personal need to perform humanitarian service? A desire for adventure or foreign travel? Further political aspirations? Professional advancement through research or publications?
2. Approach global health the way you would any other professional or business endeavor: have a serious, long-term, committed, sustained, professional approach. Take time to research in depth the problem. Consider various solutions. Meet and communicate with people that share your approach. Be flexible. Be patient with organizations, governments, and people; change takes time. Reconsider your assumptions about health and poverty. Plan ahead. Monitor progress with meaningful markers, and make changes if things aren’t going as planned. Insist on sound data-collecting processes, and make decisions based on that data. Make and keep deadlines. Meet obstacles as bumps in the road, as opposed to project-ending road blocks.