Good Intentions in Global Health : Medical Missions, Emotion, and Health Care across Borders, Paperback / softback Book

Good Intentions in Global Health : Medical Missions, Emotion, and Health Care across Borders Paperback / softback

Part of the Anthropologies of American Medicine: Culture, Power, and Practice series

Paperback / softback

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Explores informal global health action and the importance of intentions of those who volunteerIn the past two decades, medical missions have gained popularity among medical professionals, who view these excursions as important ethical interventions.

Indeed, the notion of giving back by volunteering in rural or impoverished communities is celebrated as an ideal act of selflessness, one whose effects are unquestionably beneficial to those being served. Good Intentions in Global Health is a groundbreaking exploration of the growing realm of informal global health engagement, shedding light on the intricate interplay between intentions, emotions, and ethical considerations.

Drawing on fieldwork in Guatemala, Nicole S. Berry investigates those who volunteer for short-term medical missions, revealing how the intent to do good shapes their everyday understandings of their own actions taken in the global health domain. Berry uncovers how the glorification of medical missions can obscure problems that stem from North American clinicians doctoring in places where they typically do not understand the context.

The short-term nature of missions also means that volunteers are not privy to the long-term effects of their actions—the potential harms that may arise from a lack of sustained follow-up care or the utter absence of documentation that they were even there.

By relying on gut instincts to reassure themselves that they are doing good, volunteers often bypass a comprehensive assessment of the ethical dimensions underlying their global health work. Good Intentions in Global Health shows why desires and emotions are increasingly important to contemporary global health.

She makes the case that we must pay attention to volunteers’ perceptions of their work, however wrongheaded or naïve, in order to truly influence global health on the ground.


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