Will Rogers

by Will Rogers


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What I wish everyone knew about international medical relief.

What is international medical relief?

International medical relief can happen when there is a disaster in a country. Or it can be a supplement to the regular healthcare delivery system. A third option for international medical relief is teaching and training indigenous women and men so that they can work to build up the healthcare system in their own country

There are many countries that lack a fully functional healthcare system.

For example, the top three countries with the most need for medical relief are as follows:

  • Republic of Sierra Leone: Sierra Leone has the dubious distinction of being the worst country in providing healthcare to its citizens, with a score of 0.00 on the World Health Organizaion’s health systems performance index. There are only about 22 physicians for every million people, and about 60% of the rural population does not have adequate access to clean drinking water. Life expectancy at birth is about 54 years. For the 6 million people who live here, they need help.
  • Republic of the Union of Myanmar: With a score of 0.138/1 on the WHO health systems performance index. This makes it the second-worst country in the world in providing healthcare. Located in Southeast Asia, Myanmar is bordered by India, Bangladesh, China, Laos, and Thailand. Myanmar’s spending on health care as a part of its GDP (0.5% to 3%) is among the lowest in the world, and it receives the least amount of international aid per capita. The average life expectancy is 50 years. There are only 6 doctors for every million citizens.
  • Central African Republic: With a WHO health systems performance score of 0.156/1, the Central African Republic (CAR) is the third-worst country where health care is concerned. It is a landlocked country in Central Africa enclosed by Chad, Sudan, South Sudan, DRC, The Republic of Congo, and Cameroon. The average life expectancy is just 49 years. Sanitation problems and lack of clean water are major sources of ill health in this country.

Is there faith-based international medical relief?

Some international medical relief is purely medical, offering medical services and supplies to countries that lack adequate care and access. Other services can be faith-based and combine physical and spiritual well being.

If you are interested in faith-based international medical relief, here are a few Bible verses about healing for encouragement as you consider how you might best serve:

  • “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” —Psalm 147:3
  • “Heal the sick in it and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’” —Luke 10:9
  • “And he went throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction among the people.” —Matthew 4:23
  • “When the crowds learned it, they followed him, and he welcomed them and spoke to them of the kingdom of God and cured those who had need of healing.” —Luke 9:11

If you’re interested in faith-based international medical relief, here is a list of short-term mission trips you can go on.

Are there internships for international medical relief?

Yes! There are many options for serving in international medical relief through internships. Here are a few of the top places to research for internships.

  • Mercy Ships a ship-based international health care organization, Mercy Ships provides surgical interventions, education and capacity building, and other healthcare services through its hospital ship and related healthcare and capacity building programs and partnerships. Crew serves on the ship from as little as 2 weeks up to a number of years. Over the last three decades, over 30,000 volunteers have served on a ship.
  • Christian Medical & Dental Association (CMDA): CMDA Placement Service is dedicated to bringing together healthcare professionals of Christian faith for the advancement of God’s Kingdom.
  • YWAM: YWAM’s Ship equipped ministries are committed to reaching those who are isolated and have limited or no access to the resources that sustain and build a life. People who pay their own way, willing to sail into remote areas, work hard each day, return to their bunk onboard each night knowing they helped others discover more in life. You see such gratefulness in each of their eyes. Whether receiving a simple pair of glasses, enabling them to go to school, or back to work, immunizations, health care education, clean water technology, and other options are all part of what YWAM Ships brings.

Where can I go for a list of careers in international medical relief?

If you are considering a career in international medical relief, it’s important you know you have options. One great way to research the types of jobs you may be interested in is by going to the Medical Missions Jobs Board. There, you can check out the full job listing and you can narrow your search by filtering through various options.

How else can I help with international medical relief?

If you are not able or prepared to take a short term trip or make a career out of international medical relief, then you might consider giving financially to an organization that does work you appreciate.

  • Blessings International provides pharmaceuticals, vitamins, and medical supplies to mission teams, clinics & hospitals
  • Cure International treats conditions like clubfoot, bowed legs, cleft lips, untreated burns, and hydrocephalus. Without treatment, they will have little hope for the future. Many will die from their conditions unless Cure steps in to help. 
  • Medical Missions Outreach is a group that provides a beautiful blend of quality, ethical healthcare, and eternal spiritual care. Community outreach is effective and sustainable through local church partnerships.
  • MedSend removes the obstacles of student loan debt to allow healthcare professionals to pursue their calling in medical missions. Everyone knows that medical school can be prohibitively expensive. That is why MedSend enables highly qualified and dedicated healthcare professionals to serve spiritually and physically needy people around the world in the name of Christ. We do this by making their monthly educational loan payments while they serve.

What else should I know about international medical relief?

We’ve covered a lot in this post. I hope it’s been helpful and will serve as a reference as you consider where God is calling you to serve. Here are just a few more resources as you’re thinking about what you can do next to serve. 

These are just a few of the ways to get involved in international medical relief. I want to encourage you to keep searching and exploring the ways God wants to see you involved in His work!

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