While we often complain about the quality and cost of our healthcare, there are still many areas of the world in which even basic healthcare is severely limited or non-existent. Diseases such as malaria, typhoid, sleeping sickness, AIDS, and others are rampant in certain poor countries. In addition, millions of men, women, and children around the world suffer due to life-threatening epidemics and as the result of armed conflict, basic malnutrition, and natural disasters.
Medical doctors, dentists, nurses, and other health professionals, while in careers already based on service, are usually well compensated for their efforts. However, as Emanuel Swedenborg said, “True charity is the desire to be useful to others with no thought of recompense.”
Fortunately, a number of non-profit charitable organizations have been established to provide medical care to impoverished countries around the globe. Organizations such as Doctors Giving Back, Doctors Without Borders, and Operation Smile allow physicians and other health providers to utilize their skills to help those who would otherwise have no access to medical treatment. Many organizations have specific programs to help certain groups or treat specific diseases or conditions. For example, the Direct Relief organization offers treatment to an estimated 2 million women living with obstetric fistula, a hole in the birth canal which results from obstructed labor, a major cause of maternal mortality. This condition, common in the countries of sub-Saharan Africa, can result in permanent incontinence, infection, societal shaming, even death.
Some organizations are religious or faith-based. In addition to medical treatment and other basic needs, these organizations often offer other support as well.
One doctor who decided to give back is Dr. Chauncey Crandall, M.D. Dr. Crandall, a cardiologist by training, established The Chadwick Foundation in memory of his deceased son Chad. The Chadwick Foundation describes itself as “a vital ministry to support people who otherwise would be without hope, and lost without a vision that help is on the way.”
Dr. Crandall’s Foundation serves such diverse countries as Columbia and Indonesia. In addition, it has partnered for a number of years with another organization, Doctors On Mission, which provides medical care to people in Haiti, Pakistan, Bolivia, and other poverty stricken countries, where they report mortality rates from disease average 36%. For his efforts, Dr. Crandall recently received the Physician Hero Award from the Palm Beach County Medical Society for his international healthcare relief work. “I am honored to have the opportunity to give back to others around the world who need basic medical services and spiritual sustenance, particularly when I have been so blessed in my own life” stated Dr. Crandall.
As a society, we are fortunate that so many physicians and health care workers heed the call to provide help around the world to the less privileged among us.