Utah Valley Global Health Group

A blog about global health for those living in Utah Valley and their friends.

“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.

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3 Responses to ““What Can I Do to Help?””

  1. Trent said

    How does someone without a medical background, without the means to travel to the parts of the world where helps is needed most, and without a lot of extra fund to donate help out? I am a member of Greenpeace and they have a section which enables people to letters as a way to be involved and make a difference. Do you know of any ideas for the Armchair advocate (if such a position is possible). Website or contact information would be appreciated.

  2. chads said

    Thanks for stopping by, Trent. I’m really not sure what you mean by “armchair advocate,” but if it means occasional or superficial involvement, I’m not sure I do have any ideas. I am convinced that occasional trips to developing countries for humanitarian reasons, or political activism based on limited research and experience often does more harm than good.

    Having said that, I DO think that people “without a medical background, without the means to travel, and without a lot of extra funds to help out” can make a tremendous difference in global health. I would start by considering how important this issue is to you compared to others (such as your involvement with Greenpeace). I would then start visiting the “links” at the bottom of this blog.

    I hope that helps, and I hope to hear from you again!

  3. chads said

    By the way, Trent, I will be posting soon on the following: I actually think that people with backgrounds in business, law, accounting, sales, etc. may be able to do more for global health than doctors.

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