Friday, October 15, 2021

Recommended Reading: The Pandemic's Impact on Short-Term Medical Missions

Short-term medical missions, in which teams of medical professionals travel from the West to a developing nation to provide services for a week or two, are a common model of both church and secular mission. However, like many aspects of mission work, such trips have been disrupted by the pandemic over the past two years. While there are negative outcomes to such disruptions, they also provide a space for rethinking mission practice. A recent post on NPR's Goats and Soda blog titled "COVID is changing medical fly-in missions — and it might be for the better" shares examples of how that rethinking of short-term medical missions is happening. In brief, the pandemic has accelerated pre-existing trends towards focusing on developing local medical expertise and capacity, rather than focusing on provision of services by Western experts. New communication technologies have made such capacity-building work possible even without Western travel, though the article notes that travel can still play a role in the work of building relationships across contexts. Focusing on the growth of local expertise and capacity provides for a more sustainable and equitable long-term approach to the provision of medical services. While the article's main examples come from secular work, those involved in church-related short-term medical mission projects would do well to consider the implications for their own work.

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