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Statement 7: Using STMM’s to Promote Long Term Sustainable Health Missions

We will promote using STMM’s to support long term, locally administered and sustainable health related missions We seek long-term relationships, not medical missions tourism. We will be health educators whenever and wherever we can. We will encourage and support community health evangelism/education Here we would do well to begin our thinking based on the approach promoted in “When Helping Hurts.” Are we going to serve in a relief, recovery or development setting? One aspect of relieving physical suffering that we have gotten very good at is dealing with natural disasters where a short term “relief” approach is most effective. We are also pretty good at recovery efforts but what we struggle with is finding out how we are most useful in the development phase. It is similar, I would say, to the Churches efforts at spreading the good news and announcing the kingdom. We are great at evangelistic campaigns that look good on the surface (lots of folks raise their hands to indicate a desire to follow Christ) but which produce no long term change in the lives of the people not their culture. So long term health development efforts are similar to (and one could argue are the same) what should be happening in places where new churches have been planted. This is the long and arduous process of being in relation with new believers and carefully shepherding/discipling them into maturity in Christ.  We feel strongly, as do others (MEI at CMDA for example), that building into our STMM’s a component of healthRead the full article..

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Best Practice Principle #6: No double standards

Statement 6: No Double Standards. Today we want to affirm that when doing healthcare in an international setting it is essential not to compromise our standards. We should not accept any hint of a double standard in the work we do. What do we mean?  Give medications in a health-care setting: (Promote preventive practices, attitudes and behavior before or at the time of giving medications) (one could argue that a church is a health-care setting or should be) In-country local primary health care provider who knows the patient and the culture should prescribe the medications. No experimental medications No expired medications. I think we can all agree on this one. But when it comes to not yet expired medications there is some flexibility. For example there is the  WHO GUIDELINE FOR DRUG DONATION: After arrival in the recipient country all donated drugs should have a remaining shelf-life of at least one year. Most are aware of the severe shortage of medications that most clinic’s/hospital’s in developing nations experience on a nearly day to day basis. Medications that are brought legally into another country will likely be used up very quickly and we believe flexibility in this WHO standard is appropriate so long as it is assured that the leftover medications are left with a licensed professional who is able to monitor the use and distribution of the medications.   Safe distribution of medications Child-safe Labeled WHO essential medications Purchase medications in country – this is obviously a hot button topic sinceRead the full article..

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Statement 5: Obey the rules

I apologize for the delay in postings. Our family has made a big move of faith from Guatemala to rural Buies Creek, NC. I am working with Campbell University to develop a dept of medical missions and global health. Stay tuned. Today we’ll take up again our journey through the 12 statements we have accumulated over the years and which Dr Peter Yorgin has put into its present form. We are all for building on these statements over time. Today we make the case for “Obeying the rules.” We will obey all of the host country rules and laws, to the glory of God. Obtaining permission to practice medicine (diagnose and treat illnesses of the body and mind) No bribery – No sneaking health materials into the country Obtain malpractice insurance In His word God makes it clear we are to obey the governing authorities. We would do well to recall what the situation was like in Paul’s time when he wrote the book of Roman’s under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit: Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Roman’s 13:1 In my 11 years of serving in Guatemala I saw very few STMM groups whose healthcare professionals had obtained the necessary credentials to legally practice medicine in that country even though it was a fairly easy and straightforward process. To those who did take the necessary measures to be legal I applaud you.Read the full article..

Statement #5: Obey the rules

After an all too long break we are again starting up our Zeal With Knowledge blog post. Our family just made a change in location from Guatemala to a location just south of Raleigh/Durham, NC where I (mike) am working to develop a dept of medical missions and global health at a soon to open medical school at Campbell U. Stay tuned. Today we turn out attention to statement # 5. Obey the rules with the following points: We will obey all of the host country rules and laws, to the glory of God. (as long as it does not compromise our Christian witness) Obtaining permission to practice No bribery No sneaking health materials into the country Obtain malpractice insurance The first of our points is clearly a biblical principle based on Romans 13:1- 1 Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. As painful as this may be to think about, considering the high levels of corruption in many places in greatest need, it is not a biblical mandate that we can just ignore. We would do well to remind ourselves of the situation Paul was living in when he wrote this letter. The Roman government of the time was not a model of democracy and equal rights and was going to become much more aggressive in itsRead the full article..

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Statement 4: Nurturing Relationships

Statement 4 may be the most difficult aspect of cross-cultural healthcare ministry to get right. I have found in my 11 years serving in Guatemala that the clash of cultures is a major factor in failed “partnerships” since few take the time to carefully craft and care for their long term partnership/relationship with majority world hosts. And this despite the fact that is an abundance of reading available on how to really do Christian networking and partnership right. See the resources page @ the Health for All Nations. Also check out this document from the Best Practices site: Here then is statement #4 regarding best practices in global health missions: We will nurture relationships without fostering dependency. People don’t care how much we know until they know how much we care! We will share knowledge with the in-country health professions with whom we work in those areas where they have requested learning opportunities. And we likewise will seek to receive knowledge from them. (Capacity Building) We will honor our hosts by using safe and effective local equipment and procedures whenever we can. (Appropriate Technology) Point to the Biblical God and historical Jesus first, not our materialistic life-styles, Western model of medicine, United States, etc No junk for Jesus There is perhaps no more important statement in this entire series. It is rare indeed to find a team of healthcare professionals from a Western nation that truly understands how to create a unique and biblical culture within their partnership such thatRead the full article..

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Statement 3: Advanced Planning

The third installment in our series of 12, today centers on advanced planning. We will engage in advanced planning for a short-term medical mission trips Determine what people want done Identify Assets Identify Needs Engage six groups People Partner Churches Local Health Professionals Government Other Christian groups and para-church organizations There are certainly several points for discussion in this list. Of course well developed partnerships are the foundation for doing advanced planning. It is only through mutual partnerships that we can agree on a common End for which we are working together with preference being given to the locally identified Ends and not the Ends the visiting team members want to see themselves accomplish FOR their local partner. This is a point that cannot be emphasized enough. I have recently been reading “The Power of Positive Deviance” by Pascale and Sternin (Jerry and Monique) and find it a fascinating read. Their work clearly demonstrates how long term change in poor communities happens most effectively. It is through people becoming aware of others in their own community who are more than simply surviving the daily rigors of living in a resource poor community and who are actually doing rather well in spite of the difficult conditions. But the key then is that they can either accept the methods of these positive deviants or reject them. But the decision is theirs. Our (folks from resource rich countries) approach has always been to come to communities with what we believe are the solutions to theirRead the full article..

Statement 2: Health missions team training

At a recent regional “Best Practices” conference I attended and spoke at we were having a question and answer time to try and get the pulse of some of the attendees, to see how they were tracking with the ideas we were promoting. (effective partnership, systems thinking, we should be shooting for excellence and not just average) An older gentlemen raised his hand and stood to share his opinion. “I’ve been involved in this kind of work (short term medical missions I had to assume) for more than 40 years and most of what you say is all well and good but if we tried to do this before sending out teams we’d never get anyone to go.” (paraphrase of course) I tried to be as tactful as possible with my response which went something like this. “Maybe if that’s the case then shouldn’t we be asking ourselves should such groups or individuals go at all?” I had second thoughts after saying that but I believe it’s the truth. So we now come to point #2 in Dr Yorgin’s power point presentation which given in Tucson earlier this year. Please give us feedback and please inform anyone you think might be interested about this blog and about the Health for All Nations.  Statement 2: Health missions team training Christian healthcare professional short term team members should undergo training prior to engaging in international missions health care. Paradigm shifts Community health evangelism (CHE) instead of just focusing on doing clincs/curative care.Read the full article..

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Health for All Nations 12 “Best Practices” basics

Sorry for the delay in postings. Our family is preparing to transition back to the US after 11 years of service in Guatemala. I also teach an online PHC class at Hope International U as part of their ID degree so I’ve gotten behind a few things. Several of us from the Health for All Nations just attended and some spoke at the recent Best Practices in Global Health Missions conference in San Antonio. This was coordinated by Greg and Candi Seager and hosted by their church, Community Bible Church, or as it is better known, CBC. We had a wonderful time talking about many of things that get all of us fired up about health related missions. What I would like to do today, we may go back to the video series later, is begin posting the 12 points that Dr Yorgin so skillfully summarized in his best practices power point presentation in Tucson this past January. The first (lets just call them best practices principles) is: ›We embrace the 7 Standards as outlined by the Standards of Excellence in Short term missions. 1.God-Centeredness 2.Empowering Partnerships 3.Mutual Design 4.Comprehensive Administration 5.Qualified Leadership 6.Appropriate Training 7.Thorough Follow-Up You can check these out in greater detail @: http://www.soe.org/explore/the-7-standards/ Are we all in agreement that these standards should be at the heart of our health related missions efforts? Please spread the word about this blog and the Health for All Nations.

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Where there are lot’s of doctors (but unemployed)

Let’s renew our journey with our friends from AIM and the third video in the 360Vision series. Here our attention takes a bit of a turn toward what is actually a couple of topics of importance. There is a bit of mis-translation in the video. Around :48 seconds in they are interviewing Dr Iris Tejeda about the situation regarding the employment status of newly graduated medical students. They ask why so many are unemployed and she states because there is no money (the government doesn’t have enough funding to pay them) while the subtitles say because there are no openings. Which is obviously not the case.  How appropriate then is it that short term medical teams come to a location such as the one in this video series and PROVIDE medical services when there is a 50% unemployment rate among recent medical school graduates? Rather than traveling to a country like Honduras and spending $50,000 to do so for a week, wouldn’t it make more sense that any such groups should have long term relationships built up with, first and foremost, the local healthcare system in the towns and villages where they will be serving? And at the same time long term relationships with the in-country professional schools that are educating the future healthcare providers in the host country? Wouldn’t it make sense that we should make every effort to coordinate our short term visits with all such entities? And that would include the ministry of health and any licensingRead the full article..

Is it possible to be ignorantly zealous?

Is it possible to be ignorantly zealous? I receive a daily bible reading from eBible and along the right side of each posting are often some interesting articles. I found the following one particularly relevant to this blog:  Source: 843 Acres | The Park Forum Relevant Text: Isaiah 4:2-5:30 Advocacy | In the world of legal ethics, there is no zeal apart from knowledge. Lawyers are required to represent their clients “zealously” [1] and, therefore, they must have complete knowledge of the facts. If clients withhold relevant information – even bad or damaging facts – their lawyers cannot represent them zealously. Recall A Few Good Men. Downey told his lawyers that he was ordered to give a Code Red by Kendrick, but he failed to tell them that he himself never actually heard Kendrick give the order. When that information came out during cross-examination, his lawyers had to regroup because they knew that his having received the order second-hand was unfavorable to the case. They also knew, however, that they had to address it if they had any hope of winning. I think we should be making the same argument in the realm of healthcare missions done in the name of Christ. I would say this would especially apply to those doing short term medical missions, where it is very easy to let our zeal get the best of us. No surgeon worthy of his/her calling would enter a surgical suite to perform a complicated procedure without a thorough knowledgeRead the full article..