Principles to guide a volunteer humanitarian faith-based short-term medical mission in Nepal: A case study

Global health inequities, natural disasters, and mass migration of refugees have led to an increase in volunteer humanitarian responses worldwide. While well intentioned for doing good, there is an increasing awareness of the importance for improved preparation for international volunteers involved in short-term medical missions (STMMs). This case study describes the retrospective application of Lasker’s (2016) Principles for Maximizing the Benefits for Volunteer Health Trips to international volunteers from two faith-based non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in Canada and the United States partnering with a faith-based NGO in Nepal. These principles are intended to maximize the benefits and diminish challenges that may develop between the international volunteers and the host country staff. Lessons from this case study highlight the importance of applying such principles to foster responsible STMMs. In conclusion, there is an increasing call by host country staff for collaborative and standardized guidelines or frameworks for STMMs and other global health activities.