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Medical Outreach Best Practices

Each year, Americares Medical Outreach program supports volunteer medical teams making nearly 700 trips a year to more than 65 countries with medicine, supplies and educational resources. These medical teams provide primary care, perform surgeries, respond to emergencies and strengthen local health care capacity in communities where medical care is often unavailable or out of reach.  We seek to enhance the collective impact of medical outreach teams by improving how volunteer professionals conduct their trips, and how they share knowledge to increase local capabilities and capacity.

Standards for Medical Missions

The Partnership for Quality Medical Donations–Health Systems Strengthening Medical Missions (PQMD/HSS-MM) Initiative developed best practice guidelines that better represent the perspectives of host countries through an in-depth exploration of gaps in current short-term medical missions (STMM) practices. This PQMD Initiative was created to raise awareness of the need for STMMs to serve low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) in a more sustainable fashion and strengthen their local health system. Americares, the lead NGO partner on the initiative, collaborated on all aspects of research for the initiative and provided oversight and leadership for the project.

The PQMD/HSS-MM best practice resources include annually updated guidelines and checklists that can be easily adapted to local contexts. English and Spanish versions can be found on the PQMD website. The Healthcare System Strengthening/Medical Mission guidelines describe the nine PQMD standards (Assessment, Partnership/Alliance, Governance, Code of Conduct, Preparation, Implementation, Training and Capacity Building, Sustainability, and Monitoring and Evaluation). These best practice standards were designed to improve the partnership between sending and host organizations and they outline the general steps both the sending and host organizations should follow to improve STMMs. Additionally, two checklists, the STMM Checklist – Sending Organization and the STMM Checklist – Host Organization, were developed and can also be used to plan medical missions. All of these resources can be found at: For more information about the project, please read the blog post.

*Please note that Americares supports these best practice guidelines for Medical Outreach but does not enforce them for partners receiving donated medicines and medical supplies through our program. Please refer to Americares Medical Outreach Program’s specific requirements when completing your order, submitting your application, and documentation for your trip.

Americares, with the support of the Godley Family Foundation, conducted research to develop a framework for best practices in medical outreach to encourage collaboration and lasting impact. The goal is to improve health outcomes by increasing teams’ ability to address long-term community health through sustainable partnerships.

Take the Best Practices Quiz