DOI: 10.1093/bjs/znad258.058 ISSN:

1319 Case Report: Volunteering Overseas with Medical Volunteers International

H Cook, A Politis
  • Surgery



Medical Volunteers International (MVI) is a non-government organisation (NGO) founded in Germany in 2016. Its mission is to provide medical care to asylum seekers and refugees in Europe. This is a volunteer case report from Athens, Greece. Scope of Practice: In Athens, volunteers work within three categories – triage – allocating patients to clinics and assessing for emergencies, street outreach – wound care and first aid to patients sleeping rough, and clinic – consulting room with diagnostic tools and translators.

Patient Story

Many patients do not have access to health cover from the Greek government or lack the language skills to access care. Patient A was an undocumented asylum seeker sleeping rough. He had a discharging dorsal foot abscess but refused to attend hospital for fear of cost or arrest. After persuasion he allowed MVI volunteers to clean his foot and express the abscess. With oral antibiotics and regular dressings, he improved. MVI helped arrange legal aid to assist with an asylum claim.

Impact of Volunteering: The main impact is directly from volunteers to patient care. Longer term, individuals can contribute by sharing skills with permanent members of NGO staff and helping write guidelines e.g., wound care.

How can this benefit the NHS and surgical trainees? MVI provides volunteer opportunities for doctors at all levels of training. Working with an international team provides opportunities to communicate and learn from others. Working in a less-economically-developed setting encourages resourcefulness and hones clinical diagnostic skills. Volunteers often report feeling part of a ‘bigger cause’.

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