Projects Abroad medical volunteers helping on women’s health issues

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Women in developing countries are facing a struggle to get adequate healthcare, but volunteer placements with organisations such as Projects Abroad aim to help them.

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Volunteer projects could suit those who are studying, or who wish to study medicine, or anyone with an interest in that field.

A recent report in the Guardian told how poor, under-educated and illiterate women were facing barbaric treatment at the hands of private doctors and hospitals. Women are being given caesareans and hysterectomies they do not need because substantial amounts of money can be made from these operations.

Women are left in pain, unable to work and with massive debts to pay for the healthcare. There are government medical clinics in India, but they are few and far between. Private healthcare clinics make up 93 per cent of hospitals and 85 per cent of doctors.

Oxfam has gathered startling evidence and case studies of the plight of women in rural India who ended up having major surgery when they went in for minor procedures. In one case, it took a woman nine years to pay of her first caesarean; she now has a second child delivered the same way and is unable to work in her job as a farmer because she can't lift heavy objects.

As a medical volunteer in India it is possible to make a real difference in improving healthcare for women. Volunteer projects could suit those who are studying, or who wish to study medicine, or anyone with an interest in that field.

Volunteer organisations including Projects Abroad offer a wide range of medical volunteering opportunities. Women's healthcare, in particular obstetrics and gynaecology, are one of the many areas that the organisation Project Abroad places volunteers in, and there are even chances to get involved in midwifery.

Nursing and midwifery volunteers will work in maternity clinics and general hospitals. Volunteers will mostly observe a variety of births, gynaecological and obstetric procedures. While there may be some limited hands-on work, volunteers play a vital role in providing emotional support to patients – essential to women who may feel vulnerable and scared when giving birth. The experience of having a baby is joyous, but it can also be frightening, and having a volunteer on hand to offer support makes a huge difference to a new mother's emotional well-being.

Other medical volunteering opportunities include working in dentistry, physiotherapy, speech therapy and in busy general hospitals.

Volunteers will experience a medical system that has many western influences, but which is also mixed with local culture. It's a learning experience like no other, and one that gives volunteers a valuable insight into healthcare around the world.

Anyone wishing to find out more about medical volunteering in India can visit the Projects Abroad Ireland website for more details.

About Projects Abroad IE

Established in 1992, Projects Abroad is a leading organiser of volunteer projects, work experience and gap year placements. With a flexible approach and experienced in-country staff Projects Abroad has now helped more than 50,000 volunteers achieve their goals by working with developing communities in more than 25 destinations worldwide.

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Anna Mccarthy
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