Dr. Lawrence Loh, an alumnus of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, was featured in a recent Goats and Soda piece on National Public Radio (NPR) examining whether fly-in medical missions are the most effective way to provide health care, including surgery, to the low- and middle-income countries. Dr. Loh received his MPH from the Bloomberg School in 2010.
“Missions are recognizing that there’s a lot of criticism being leveled at them,” Dr. Loh told Goats and Soda. An adjunct professor at the University of Toronto’s Dalla Lana School of Public Health, Dr. Loh studies short-term medical volunteering. “There are a lot of concerns about what happens when these missions leave, and there’s a lot of concern that the care they’re providing may not be culturally appropriate” — or even wanted by the people on the ground, he said in the interview.
Dr. Loh is involved with a group that is working on guidelines and strategies. The goal is to ensure that missions form a mutual partnership with host communities. The American College of Physicians recently set up new guidelines for doctors and medical students considering work abroad that emphasize the importance of respecting local customs and collaborating with local health care providers.
Dr. Loh says the medical students who come to him for advice are beginning to back off from fly-in missions. “A lot of students are much savvier now,” he told Goats and Soda. “They don’t want to do something that’s non-sustainable.”Friday Letter Submission