By and large, healthcare professionals are caring in nature. Beyond their work, some may have entertained the idea of volunteering services to help more people in need. However, not all healthcare professionals can travel to places such as Peru or South Africa, the top two locations in need of medical volunteers1. For those who would love to help but have little time to travel far, below are 5 volunteer opportunities in the Asia-Pacific region.

1. IVUMed2

A US-based non-profit organisation started by Dr Catherine deVries that focus on improving international urological care. Volunteers lead workshops spanning a few days to educate local healthcare professionals on urological procedures while treating patients. Such training is conducted in a country for over five years until locals are able to carry out complex procedures and teach their peers.

Training workshops also cover women’s health together with reconstructive, oncologic and paediatric urology. IVUMed is currently seeking Urologists and Anaesthesiologist volunteers for the 2017 missions in Vietnam and Mongolia. Vacancies for missions in countries further away, like Kenya and Sudan, are also available.

2. Healthcare Expeditions International3

Healthcare Expeditions International is a Singapore-based, student-run NGO that collaborates with local NGOs and hospitals in Nepal, Thailand, Cambodia and the Philippines to provide care for underprivileged communities. Activities involve physical health screening, health education in schools, establishing medical records and even distributing food.

The project duration is approximately two weeks per country, excluding pre-trip and post-trip activities. Positions are open to doctors, dentists, nurses, healthcare professionals and students who are Singaporeans or Permanent Residents.

3. Hope Worldwide (Malaysia), Persatuan Kebajikan HOPE worldwide Kula Lumpur4

The Malaysian branch of Hope Worldwide is an international non-profit organisation present in more than 100 countries. HopeWW currently has clinics in Kuala Lumpur and Penang that provide free medication and medical consultations. It is looking for doctors and nurses to staff these facilities. HopeWW also runs a food distribution programme and educational programmes for young children.

4. Doctours5

This Australia-based organization has placements with hospitals or clinics located in Timor Leste, Fiji, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Cambodia, amongst other locations. Volunteers conduct health screenings in medical facilities, do home visits and train local healthcare providers. Besides healthcare, volunteers can teach English, Mathematics and other subjects at local schools and contribute to general community development by assisting social workers.

The placements last from one to four weeks, depending on the country, and the dates are flexible. Doctors, nurses, students and healthcare professionals from all countries are welcome to volunteer their services.

5. NZ Medical Assistance Team (NZMAT)6

The Medical Assistance Team is part of the New Zealand government’s Ministry of Health. It was created in response to a request for aid by the Samoan Government, after Samoa was affected by an earthquake-induced tsunami in 2009. This team is specially deployed for disaster relief either domestically or within the south-west Pacific region. Some of their past deployments include the Christchurch earthquake in February 2011 and Fiji in March 2016, when Cyclone Winston battered the islands.

This programme also covers the costs for nominated volunteers undertaking the Australian Medical Assistance Team’s training for further professional development. The maximum mission duration is 14 days since duties can be intense. However, positions are only open to New Zealand citizens and Permanent Residents, alongside other requirements.

Regardless of socioeconomic status, everyone should have the opportunity to receive healthcare. With their knowledge and expertise, healthcare professionals can contribute greatly as volunteers. Volunteering need not take place in faraway countries – even volunteering on a regular basis in their own country can make a difference to those in need of free healthcare services. MIMS

Read more:
Ten years and counting: Project GroomOver
Virtual volunteering for the busy healthcare professional
Volunteer to enrich your healthcare career
Volunteerism boosts well-being and sense of fulfilment

1 GoOverseas. “Medical Volunteer Programs Abroad: Top 9 Countries in Need.” 23 April 2013. Accessed January 9 2017.
2 “IVUmed.” 2016. Accessed December 31.
3 “HealthEx International.” 2016. Accessed December 31.
4 “Hopeworldwide Malaysia.” 2016. Accessed December 31.
5 Doctours. 2016. “Doctours.” Accessed December 31.
6 New Zealand Government Ministry of Health. 2013. “New Zealand Medical Assistance Team.”