THE HEAL INITIATIVE
The HEAL initiative was born out of our many years of experience working in resource limited settings. Although we first met as volunteers in post-earthquake Haiti, we independently reached similar conclusions as we coordinated and worked with hundreds of health care volunteers: to have lasting impact as health professionals in resource limited settings the will to serve must be combined with the expertise to do so.
As post-earthquake Haiti turned into a chronic emergency, the need in health care turned out to mirror what we know from years of working in Liberia, or Haiti, or rural India and now Navajo nation.
- Local health professional capacity must be supported.
- The American health professionals who commit themselves to this mission must deeply understand the local context and have both the clinical and non-clinical skills to truly improve care.
- The relationships between individuals and institutions must be reciprocal, long-term and equitable.
We built the HEAL Initiative with these commitments in mind. We are starting with our own vulnerable populations in the United States. We are linking together health professionals who are dedicated to serving their community and learn from others like them all around the world. It is the training program that we wished we had gone through. It is a program that is structured to support and build local capacity in very poor areas for the long term. It is financially sustainable in a way that is difficult to achieve in Global Health.
The HEAL Initiative is a model primed to have a profound impact on the lives of so many people needlessly suffering from diseases we know how to treat.
We invite you to join us in this work!
Sriram Shamasunder, MD, DTM&H
Phuoc Van Le, MD, MPH, DTM&H
Unmet Passion: American Health Professionals
Over the last decade, interest in global health has reached 90% among medical students and residents. Never before has a generation of American health professionals been committed to tackling health disparities on such a global scale. Unfortunately, many of the current opportunities in global health are sporadic, incoherent, and fail to have lasting benefit for the most vulnerable populations.
Unmet Need Abroad: Developing Countries
From Haiti’s Central Plateau, to India’s vast rural poor, to Liberia’s urban slums, the communities that suffer the most from death and diseases are precisely those that lack trained health professionals. The World Health Organization estimates that 57 developing countries have severe shortages of health professionals. Many of these countries are in Africa, where the WHO estimates a shortage of 818,000 doctors, nurses, and midwives.
Unmet Need at Home: United States
Under-served communities in the United States have difficulty recruiting and retaining qualified health professionals. For example, 20% of the United States population lives in rural areas; yet only 9% of physicians work in these areas. Often, despite significant funds at their disposal, large institutions like the Indian Health Service and the Federally Qualified Health Center system face challenges in securing a workforce to care for their communities.