Throughout the month of March, numerous international days of action call us to reflect on our most pressing global challenges. These include International Women’s Day, World Oral Health Day, World Down Syndrome Day, International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, World Water Day, and World Tuberculosis Day.
All of these causes are important, and each day of action sheds a light on the harmful effects of social inequity – whether that inequity stems from discrimination based on race, gender or ability; or from unequal access to critical resources such as water or health care. At HVO, we recognize inequity holds us all back. The only way we can rise to meet the pressing global challenges that face us – from health care access to poverty to climate change – is by working together as one.
Our belief in the power of people working together is rooted not only in ideology, but also in experience. For more than three decades, we have relied on partnerships grounded in respect and equity to progress toward our vision of a world where all people have access to high quality health care delivered by local health professionals. By partnering with more than 100 hospitals, universities and health institutions in low-resource countries to teach, train and mentor, our volunteers, staff and supporters are able to address a complex issue – the global shortage of health care providers.
In Health Volunteers Overseas: 30 Years of Leveraging International Partnerships to Strengthen Health Worker Capacity, Nancy Kelly and April Pinner described key indicators of successful partnership, and explained, “Ultimately, seeking equity within a partnership recognizes each partner’s right to be ‘at the table’…” Without our partners at the table, we would be ill equipped to meet needs and overcome locally-specific challenges. In addition, our volunteers would not have peace of mind knowing the impact of their service extends beyond the completion of their assignment through the actions of the local health workers they teach and mentor.
As we observe the many international days of action throughout the month, HVO will continue to foster partnerships focused on equity and respect.
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