Volume 95, Issue 3

Thursday, June 7, 2001


Editorial Board 2001-2002

A simple act of kindness

Editorial Cartoon

A simple act of kindness

Joseph Conrad's epic novel Heart of Darkness seems a far-flung title when addressing the hearts of gold possessed by a few Western students who are making the voyage to the dark continent on a humanitarian mission dubbed MedOutreach Tanzania 2001.

The student-run organization will send a group of medical, nursing and dentistry students to treat the people of Tanzania, East Africa in the most monumental and gritty of classrooms the Third World. 

The students' experience in the field will give them a chance to participate in the primary care and medical and dental education for the people of Africa.

These are students risking their health and safety in a foreign land to help needy people and only being paid in return with experience and the benefit of knowing they're helping. In all fairness, the efforts of this team of volunteers must be seen as a magnanimous.

One question remains though: why aren't the professionals doing this?

Considering the large salaries paid to some medical professionals, salaries which come out of the public purse. It seems reasonable to hope established PhDs would be willing to donate their time to such a cause.

The professionals look considerably less dedicated when compared to students risking their necks in the darkest Africa for free while they, as established practioners, pull in up to six figures only to complain they're not making enough and as a result, move South to fatten their wallets with Yankee greenbacks.

Perhaps it's the mentality that exists among the medical community that when a doctor or health care pracitioner uses their skill in a foreign land, it's all or nothing. 

Does it have to be all or nothing? Why can't health care workers go overseas for just a short period of time?

To put it simply, most can't. Some medical professionals have large salaries and consequently, large houses which require upkeep. Not to mention, regardless of money-making power, their respective families who count on them for love and support. To miss a few months to help the impoverished is long on heart, but short on tangible dividends that pay off expenses. 

Maybe the only time a member of the medical community has the time or can risk such a trip, is when they're starting out. 

It seems to be the only rational time. In fact, it is so rational that students in the medical field rush for the opportunity but unfortunately, there is a limited number of spots and funds. 

It all comes down to students who want to and have the time to, go overseas and help the needy, but don't have the money. And the professionals who have the money but don't have the time to help the same individuals. As it is a duty of the health care profession to provide care for all of those who are sick, maybe boths ends of the spectrum should get together on this one. 

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