In May of 2006, a group of pre-medical students founded a student organization at the University of Central Florida, International Medical Outreach (IMO). IMO serves to plan medical volunteering trips to impoverished areas of the world and educate students on global health, expanding their world perspectives and applying those perspectives to culturally diverse areas of Florida. Each year our organization continues to advance the cause of international healthcare and volunteerism. Through our services to third world communities such as the outskirts of San Pedro Sula, Honduras, Nicaraguan-immigrant villages in Costa Rica, shanty-towns in Peru, slums in Haiti, and small villages in Ecuador we have witnessed multitudes of positive change. This year we are incorporating local community health projects into our program by creating a partnership with the Center for Multicultural Wellness and Headstart Programs so that we may reach out both abroad and at home.
This past academic year, International Medical Outreach took a major step forward in our international efforts by establishing a permanent project in Haiti. Through our permanent project, we are hoping to support a specific community in their medical and everyday needs. Some of our plans include funding a doctor to visit the community at least once a month, distribute albendazole (anti-parasitic treatment) every three months, and prepare health education presentations for when the students go on a trip. Through this permanent project, International Medical Outreach hopes to make a long-lasting and significant impact in the lives of the people of Haiti in the most positive way.
Our international endeavors of the past year included medical volunteering trips to Colombia and Paraguay. Guided by a team of Colombian doctors, students had the opportunity to work in a variety of settings and communities within the country. They were able to provide assistance to physicians and other allied health professionals in both rural and urban clinics to understand the dynamic of what underserved care entails in a complex society of "the have and the have-nots". Additionally, they developed and presented health education programs to enhance the importance of preventive medicine. The Paraguay trip was structured very similarly to the Colombia trip in the sense that, along with Paraguayan doctors, students had the opportunity to reach out to poverty stricken villages. This goal was achieved by conduction of clinic days and health education programs with local physicians.
In addition, IMO partnered with both the student and professional chapters of Engineers Without Borders to plan two additional health assessment trips to Haiti. In these projects we documented the health of communities in southern Haiti to allow our engineering counterparts to effectively assess levels of water contamination so that they may make improvements upon it. Our student team administered basic medical care and provided medical supply and pharmaceutical donations as well.
The international journeys IMO will be taking this year are still to be decided, with the exception of Haiti. The countries we are seeking to help are Ecuador and Mexico. There remain several details to iron out and contacts to be confirmed in the proposed countries. However, it is with much confidence that I can say that regardless of where our endeavors take us this year, we are whole-heartedly committed to making a difference in countries of need all over the world. The trips this year will be structured very similarly to Colombia and Paraguay, with minor changes solely being to improve the experience of the students and to enhance our impact in the country we visit.
Although we often partner with "parent" organizations, it is up to students to fundraise independently to allow ourselves to be of service to these programs. International Medical Outreach continues to work to make a difference in the lives of people challenged with a poverty that is unfamiliar and unfathomable to most of us. Although this poverty is beyond our control, a solution to some of its repercussions is within our reach. Any donation that you send helps us achieve our goals of diminishing the devastation of this poverty's despairing effects. The students involved in these trips need your help to cover the costs of airfare, accommodations, medical supplies, and other donations brought to these communities in need.
Donations greater than $200.00 are considered "sponsor" donations and include the opportunity to have you or your business advertised by our organization on our shirts, fundraising and promotions materials, newsletters and at meetings. All donations are tax-deductible if requested.
Please send any donations (made payable to IMO) to:
International Medical Outreach, Student Union 208, P.O. Box 163245, Orlando, FL 32816.
With grateful appreciation,
International Medical Outreach at UCF