Health Volunteers Overseas
|Type||Humanitarian Health Aid|
Board Chair: Richard Fisher, MD
|Area served||Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Caribbean, and Eastern Europe|
|Method(s)||Education and Training|
Health Volunteers Overseas (HVO) is a Washington, DC-based nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the health care of developing countries through the training and education of local health care providers.
The idea for the organization was sparked by an article by Dr. Ralph Crawshaw, published in the December 1984 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association. In the article, Dr. Crawshaw urged fellow medical practitioners to "make a substantial difference to your colleagues in developing countries" and cited the example of Orthopaedics Overseas. In 1986, the Orthopaedics Overseas Board of Directors voted to become the first division of the newly created Health Volunteers Overseas. Two anesthesiologists went to Ethiopia for the first HVO volunteer trip later that year.
On August 1, 2011 HVO celebrated its 25th anniversary. Since opening its doors in Washington, D.C. in 1986, HVO has sent more than 4,372 HVO volunteers to complete more than 7,947 assignments overseas in Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Caribbean, Eastern Europe, and Oceania. Volunteers are drawn from the fields of anesthesia, dermatology, hematology, internal medicine, nursing education, oncology, oral health, orthopaedics, pediatrics, physical therapy, wound and lymphedemia management, emergency medicine, mental health, and pharmacology.
What problem is HVO addressing?
The delivery of health care services in any country is dependent on a trained cadre of health care professionals. The well-documented global shortage of health care providers  disproportionately impacts developing countries. Faced with serious resource constraints, as well as an immense burden of disease, developing countries are faced with enormous needs in the health care sector but have limited capacity to educate and support the workforce necessary to meet these needs. As a result, not enough health care professionals are trained, few are offered the opportunity for continued professional education and growth, and most work in isolation with little chance to learn from nearby colleagues.
HVO is governed by a volunteer Board of Directors representing a diverse background of experience and professions. There are more than 185 health care professionals serving in a variety of leadership positions with HVO, providing the framework for managing HVO’s extensive portfolio of projects. A staff of eleven is under the management of the Executive Director. HVO’s total expenses in 2012 were just over one million dollars; about 83% of all expenses are program-related. The organization has $1.9 million in net assets.
Dues, sponsorships, and donations make up the bulk of HVO’s support. In 2012, 55% of revenue came from individuals, 35% from corporations and foundations, and 10% from associations. In addition, volunteers and other donors contributed $6.3 million in donated time, services, and equipment in 2011.
A unique aspect of HVO’s organizational model is the involvement and support provided by leading American professional health care associations. These associations, with the year in which they first became a sponsor, are as follows:
American Academy of Dermatology (2002)
American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (1993)
American Academy of Pediatrics (1993)
American Association for Hand Surgery (2013)
American Association of Colleges of Nursing (1999)
American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons (1987)
American College of Cardiology (2013)
American College of Physicians (1988)
American Dental Association (1990)
American Foundation for Surgery of the Hand (1999)
American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society (2004)
American Physical Therapy Association (1995)
American Society of Clinical Oncology (2007)
American Society of Hematology (2007)
Association for the Advancement of Wound Care (2006)
Society for Gynecologic Oncology (2011)
All HVO volunteers are trained, licensed health care professionals who are screened by similarly skilled program directors to ensure that their skills and expertise are appropriate to a particular site. Volunteers work alongside their colleagues in developing countries, providing new insights and techniques. They introduce new teaching methodologies, update or create teaching curricula, and inspire new ways of thinking and problem solving.
Nearly 40% of HVO volunteers are "repeat" volunteers. Volunteers cover their own travel costs and the average out-of-pocket costs associated with an assignment are $2,900.
Health Volunteers Overseas works with local health care professionals in the following countries::
- Costa Rica
- St. Lucia
- Catalog for Philanthropy. Retrieved on May 6, 2008
- A Doctor-to-Doctor International Medical Education Exchange JAMA. 1984;252(22):3170-3171. doi:10.1001/jama.1984.03350220076038
- The Volunteer Connection 25th Anniversary Insert
- World Health Organization’s 2006 World Health Report
- HVO Board of Directors
- Report on Audit of Combined Financial Statements (2011 & 2012)
- Health Volunteers Overseas website (http://www.hvousa.org/)
- HVO 2012 Annual Report (http://www.hvousa.org/newsPublications/ars/HVOAR12.pdf)
- Report on Audit of Combined Financial Statement (Dec 31, 2012 and 2011) (http://www.hvousa.org/pdfs/2012audit-combined-financial-statement.pdf)
- HVO was selected as "one of the best small charities in the Greater Washington region" for the 2010-2011 Catalogue for Philanthropy. (http://www.catalogueforphilanthropy-dc.org)
- Information on global health care crisis, from the (http://www.healthgap.org/camp/hcw_docs/JLi_Human_Resources_for_Health.pdf)