Over the past two decades, the number of short-term international mission trips for the provision of health services has dramatically increased. Catholic health care has participated in this growth. According to researchers at Harvard Medical School, an estimated 6,000 medical missions are sent from the United States to low- or middle-income countries every year with an annual expenditure of at least $250 million dollars (http://paperity.org/p/57052280/health-impact-assessment-and-short-term-medical-missions-a-methods-study-to-evaluate).
While these experiences provide an opportunity for Catholic health care to continue its mission of reaching out to those persons who are poor, sick and vulnerable, there are consistent concerns about their value and effectiveness. Considering the signiﬁcant human and economic investment in health service trips, it is essential to gain a better understanding of these activities and to consider how they can provide the maximum beneﬁt for all involved.
CHA has conducted two phases of research on short-term medical mission trips — one from the perspective and practices of the U.S.-based partners, and the second, from the perspective and practices of those who receive these trips in low- and middle-income countries.
The combined results are available in these two resources: