12 Best Medical Volunteer Abroad Programs For 2021

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Are you a medical student or a professional, looking forward to volunteer at a healthcare center in a faraway land and make a difference by treating people?

There are several countries around the world where the medical facilities aren’t well developed and people living in rural areas often suffer from inadequate treatment. Serving as a medical volunteer is probably one of the noblest acts that’ll not just let you help in healing their pain, but also empathize with the conditions they’re living in.

Volunteering Solutions, in association with local healthcare centers and public clinics, have designed medical programs to ensure that enthusiastic people get an opportunity to step up and contribute as a volunteer.

Here are the 12 best medical volunteering programs that would let you know how the system works in these countries and also provide you with a first-hand learning experience.

1. Medical Volunteering Program in Peru

Being a developing nation with a considerable amount of the underprivileged population, Peru still suffers from certain drawbacks when it comes to the healthcare scenario. As per the data by the World Health Organization, the common causes of death are congenital anomalies, prematurity, injuries, pneumonia, birth asphyxia, neonatal sepsis, diarrhea, and HIV/AIDS and people living in the rural areas often have to face the problem of insufficient care and treatment.

You’ll mostly be assisting the professional doctor-in-charge, shadowing & assisting in different medical procedures.  Being a medical volunteer in Cusco, you’ll get to work at the health care centers and clinics (which often have inadequate staff & doctors) to provide care and support to the natives.

Depending on your medical experience and Spanish language skills you may be asked to assist with various procedures such as suturing wounds, giving vaccinations, helping with taking vital signs of patients, being involved in the daily procedures of medical centers, observing or directly providing various sorts of assistance to existing doctors and nurses.

Location: Cusco

Eligibility: Minimum 18 years old, with a medical education background. (Pre-Medical, Medical and Nursing students, as well as Medical Professionals, are welcome to join. Participants with other qualifications in the medical field such as CAN, EMT can also join the program)

Duration: Minimum 2 weeks – maximum of 24 weeks


2. Medical Volunteering Program in South Africa

While both private and public healthcare systems are there in South Africa, the public system serves the vast majority of the population but its chronically underfunded and understaffed. Being a volunteer for the medical program in South Africa, you’ll be mostly working healthcare clinics and centers located in Cape Town as well as suburban community areas. These clinics mostly cater to the poorer section of the society who in general can’t afford private medical care.

Since these healthcare clinics do not have enough resources and are not adequately operated, no major operations are performed here. However, various awareness and support programs are offered at the clinics, including HIV / AIDS awareness, special childcare and healthy living (nutrition & diet) as well as day-to-day medical care.

It’ll be a great opportunity for you to understand how the medical system works in this country and offer your help in making a difference in the lives of the people. Know that your efforts will be greatly appreciated.

Location: Cape Town

Eligibility: Minimum 18 years old, with a medical education background. (Pre-Medical, Medical and Nursing students, as well as Medical Professionals, are welcome to join. Participants with other qualifications in the medical field such as CAN, EMT can also join the program)

Duration: Minimum 2 weeks – maximum of 24 weeks


3. Medical Volunteering Program in Costa Rica

In spite of being a developing nation, Costa Rica’s health care system has immensely improved in the last couple of decades. According to the UN, Costa Rica’s public health system has been ranked within the top 20 in the world and number 1 in Latin America.

If you choose to be a medical volunteer in Costa Rica, then you’ll be working with small private and semi-private clinics and pharmacies alongside other doctors and nurses. You’ll be mainly shadowing the professionals and carry out basic functioning like checking blood pressure, temperature, weight, etc. You can also conduct healthcare campaigns in the local communities, spreading awareness.

It’ll be an incredible learning experience for you as you’ll be working with not just professionals, but other medical students from different parts of the world. You’ll also get to serve society and help in healing the people.

Location: San Jose

Eligibility: Minimum 18 years old, with a medical education background (Pre-Medical, Medical, and Nursing students, as well as Medical Professionals, are welcome to join)

Duration: Minimum 1 week – maximum of 24 weeks


4. Medical Volunteering Program in Tanzania

The healthcare scenario in Tanzania isn’t as improved and advanced as that of the West and there’s still a huge section of the population living in the rural areas who don’t get adequate facilities. There are several cases of HIV as well as malaria, yellow fever, cholera and other diseases. In the islands of Zanzibar, the scenario is even worse as the place has a tradition of early marriages and the case of teen pregnancy can be found in abundance. The healthcare system of Zanzibar is not very strong and often faces infrastructural and administrative challenges.

If you choose to travel to Tanzania and opt to be a volunteer, you can either work at the health care centers, medical clinics, and dispensaries in and around Arusha or in the hospitals of Zanzibar where the staff is mostly inadequate. Being a volunteer, your major task would be to shadow the professionals and assist them whenever needed. Depending on your skills, you’ll be assigned work like suturing wounds, giving vaccinations, etc.

In case you are working in Zanzibar, you can also choose your preferred department as a maternity ward, dental department, eye clinic, physiotherapy, etc. This will be your chance to serve the people and contribute to their wellbeing.

Location: Arusha and Zanzibar

Eligibility: Minimum 18 years old, with a medical education background (Pre-Medical, Medical, and Nursing students, as well as Medical Professionals, are welcome to join)

Duration: Minimum 1 week – maximum of 24 weeks (Arusha) and a maximum of 12 weeks (Zanzibar)


5. Medical Volunteering Program in Cambodia

As a developing Third World Nation, the medical & healthcare scenario in Cambodia is still not adequate and most people living in rural areas are deprived of proper facilities. As a volunteer for this project, you will be placed at local city hospitals and clinics in Phnom Penh, where professional doctors and nurses will be guiding you at every step. Volunteers usually shadow the doctors, and tasks are assigned as per your knowledge and experience.

The basic work at the clinics would involve suturing wounds, giving vaccinations, etc. You will also need to be actively involved in the daily procedures of the hospital, taking rounds of the wards, maintaining files, and doing routine patient check-ups like measure blood pressure, check fever, etc.

Not only will you get to serve the Cambodian society, but you’ll also get to know about their history, culture, and lifestyle.

Location: Phnom Penh

Eligibility: Minimum 18 years old, with a medical education background (Pre-Medical, Medical, and Nursing students, as well as Medical Professionals, are welcome to join)

Duration: Minimum 2 week – maximum of 24 weeks


6. Medical Volunteering Program in Thailand

The Medical Volunteering Program in Surin is undoubtedly one of the most popular and preferred choices, as the volunteers are always guided by a member of the local Thai Health Authority and there’s immense scope to learn. Surin is a town in the northeastern part of Thailand, and the healthcare scenario there isn’t as developed as that in Bangkok.

You’ll be working in rural communities, helping the local professionals in their day-to-day procedures of treating the patients. Apart from working in the local communities, you can also do home visits for health check-ups. In case you are traveling in a group, Volunteering Solutions will help you in organizing healthcare camps as well.

Being a part of this unique medical volunteering opportunity in Thailand, you can make a large and long-lasting difference whilst observing the working conditions of healthcare professionals in Surin. And of course, it’ll be a great opportunity for you to explore the country differently.

Location: Surin

Eligibility: Minimum 18 years old, with a medical education background (Pre-Medical, Medical, and Nursing students, as well as Medical Professionals, are welcome to join)

Duration: Minimum 1 week – maximum of 24 weeks


7. Medical Volunteering Program in Ghana

Being a developing country, the healthcare scenario varies across the country. The urban centers are well served but they are often expensive and unaffordable for the majority of the population. Rural areas often have no modern health care. Patients in these areas either rely on traditional African medicine or travel great distances for health care.

As a volunteer for the Medical Healthcare program in Ghana, you will work alongside the doctors, nurses, and local staff in public hospitals and community clinics in different locations across Tamale and in the outskirts as well. Volunteer tasks are determined depending on the volunteer’s qualifications, experience, and knowledge. Qualified medical volunteers work in the areas of maternal health, mental health, surgery, laboratories, counseling, and testing.

This would be a great opportunity for medical students to gain first-hand learning experience, and in case you are a professional, it’ll be an eye-opening journey for you as you’ll get to know about the medical conditions in Ghana.

Location: Tamale

Eligibility: Minimum 18 years old, with a medical education background (Pre-Medical, Medical and Nursing students, as well as Medical Professionals, are welcome to join. All medical program participants need to provide a copy of their certifications/ credentials)

Duration: Minimum 1 week – maximum of 24 weeks


8. Medical Volunteering Program in Kenya

The healthcare system in Kenya is structured in a hierarchical manner, with private hospitals being on top and local dispensaries and community healthcare clinics at the lowest level. Since a lot of people still live in underprivileged conditions in the slum areas around the cities, they are mostly deprived of proper health care which leads to widespread diseases.

According to data, the 2010 maternal mortality rate per 100,000 births for Kenya is 530. So you can well understand what role the volunteers have in this African nation!

As a volunteer, you will work in medical clinics, dispensaries, and hospitals in and around the city of Nairobi. These clinics are mostly understaffed, hence, your assistance will make a significant difference to the entire scenario. You’ll mostly be shadowing the professionals and carry out daily tasks as per your experience and knowledge.

Location: Nairobi

Eligibility: Minimum 18 years old, with a medical education background (Pre-Medical, Medical, and Nursing students, as well as Medical Professionals, are welcome to join. All medical program participants need to provide a copy of their certifications/ credentials)

Duration: Minimum 1 week – maximum of 24 weeks


9. Medical Volunteering Program in Uganda

According to the WHO, the leading causes of death in Uganda include communicable diseases such as HIV/AIDS, malaria, respiratory tract infections, and diarrheal disease. The risk factors most responsible for death and disability include child and maternal malnutrition, unprotected sexual activity, multiple sex partners, contaminated water, poor sanitation, and air pollution. In a Third World Nation as this, the healthcare scenario is still disappointing and many people often don’t get adequate treatment when required.

As a volunteer, you’ll be placed in a health care center that has over 140 beds and offers opportunities in Radiology, Dental, Pediatric, Surgery, Maternity, OPD, and other departments. Work will last for anywhere between 4-6 hours a day and can be extended in case there is an emergency. On the weekends, there might be community healthcare camps as well, which you’ll get to attend.

Location: Kampala Region

Eligibility: Minimum 18 years old, with a medical education background (Pre-Medical, Medical, and Nursing students, as well as Medical Professionals, are welcome to join. All medical program participants need to provide a copy of their certifications/ credentials)

Duration: Minimum 1 week – maximum of 18 weeks


10. Medical Volunteering Program in The Philippines

This is a rural health care program, under which you’ll have to work in under-funded clinics based in the rural areas outside Tacloban City. These are basically public clinics and face a shortage of manpower and skilled doctors. As a volunteer, you would be required to assist the clinic staff and doctors with regular health care activities. You can also conduct healthcare camps, awareness camps, vaccination camps, etc.

Often, volunteers also get involved with other public health projects, such as the Annual Medical Mission or Annual Medical Check-up for the entire rural population. In a span of at least 4 weeks, you’ll get to contribute effectively as a medical volunteer and make a difference in the lives of the people.

Location: Tacloban

Eligibility: Minimum 18 years old, with a medical education background (Pre-Medical, Medical, and Nursing students, as well as Medical Professionals, are welcome to join. All medical program participants need to provide a copy of their certifications/ credentials)

Duration: Minimum 4 weeks – maximum of 24 weeks

11. Medical & Nursing Program in Sri Lanka

medical volunteering in Sri lanka

A tear-drop shaped island located closer to India, Sri Lanka is yet another developing Southeast Asian nation. However, it is the only country in South Asia that offers free healthcare to all its citizens, which is remarkable for this region. As such, the public sector here is very well developed and much larger than the private sector. Participants working in the public sector have access to a larger and wider network of medical professionals, range and volume of patients, and exposures to a comprehensive set of wards and special units that cannot come close to being matched in the private sector.

There is also a greater need for future doctors and nurses to assist in the public sector as the sheer volume of patients they get is overwhelming and from lower socio-economic classes, where the need for support is greater. This program caters to medical and nursing participants of all levels and provides a comprehensive insight into the medical system of Sri Lanka with immense learning opportunities. From beginners who have an interest (but no experience) in the field of medical sciences to advanced 5th-year students looking for specific specializations, we have all the bases covered for you.

It is important to note that the experience in the hospital is mainly observation-based, where participants will get exposure to a wide range of cases and patient types. Some participants may get the opportunity to get more hands-on experience where they are allowed to interact directly with patients, but that is entirely at the discretion of the medical and nursing staff based on their comfort level with the particular student.

Location: Karapitiya & Galle

Eligibility: Minimum 18 years old, with a medical education background. (Pre-Medical, Medical and Nursing students, as well as Medical Professionals, are welcome to join.)

Duration: Minimum 1 Week – Maximum of 24 weeks

12. Medical Internship Program in Vietnam

medical volunteering in vietnam

The Healthcare Internship Program in Hanoi has been designed for pre-med, medical and nursing students, this program will enable you to work at the Centre of Orthopedics and Rehabilitation of the Disabled. Most of the center functions similar to a hospital, with various rooms for different treatment but also includes a day-care room for disabled children where they can also receive physiotherapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy.

As a volunteer for this program, you’ll be assisting local staff in providing rehabilitation exercises and therapy treatment for children, join in different therapy rooms and work more directly with children, shadowing/observing the Medical and Nursing staff in daily tasks, and doing basic assisting work, etc. It is important to note that only students from their 3rd & 4th year, having relevant professional experience & knowledge can assist in the surgeries. But nonetheless, being around the doctors will be an incredible learning opportunity for you. Also, you’ll get to know more about the problems that exist in Vietnam and how the Third World healthcare scenario is so different from that of the First World Countries.

Location: Hanoi

Eligibility: Minimum 18 years old, with a medical education background. (Pre-Medical, Medical and Nursing students, as well as Medical Professionals, are welcome to join.)

Duration: Minimum 2 Weeks – Maximum of 24 weeks

So, all you have to do now is choose the destination where you wish to go and volunteer, drop us a mail at [email protected] to know more about booking your program and spread the joy of being healthy!

You can also follow us on Instagram for some travel inspiration and join us on Facebook to be updated about your volunteers’ journeys at the project sites.


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