Thursday, November 5, 2015

Effective Altruism and the Ethics of Helping Others through Medical Missions

Effective altruism has been a major concern about the ethics of helping others. The discussion has centered on whether the help we offer has the greatest positive impact to the world. It scrutinizes whether the intent to help others is a valid reason enough to use our resources in certain activity. Such is the ethical questions that needs to be addressed by organizations thinking of maximizing their resources to help others through a medical mission. Here are Six Questions that needs to be answered before you organize a medical mission:

1. Is the medical mission needed in the area?
Many medical missions are conducted in areas that do not match the resources available to the needs in the area. One group once went to a depressed squatters area bringing antibiotics expecting many sick children. They found many to be sick with tuberculosis but do not have the medicines for it. Because medical missions often address acute medical needs, the timing and the location are important considerations for this activities. Another location might benefit the most with what you have to offer.

2. Are the recipients the neediest people who need the service?
This question is related to the first. Medical missions are often limited in their resources. It becomes important then to ask who will receive these limited resources? Do we give these to members of the organizations only? Do we invite our family and friends? Do we cater on a first come, first serve basis? Or do we exclusively limit it to the poorest people who needs the help the most?

3. Is the medical mission the best way to improve the health of the individual and the community at large?
Medical missions are useful when disaster strikes as the health care system is overwhelmed by the situation. Yet, in ordinary times there are existing health services that the government are offering. It might be more effective to help improve the existing health programs and services available in the community to have longer lasting impact in improving people's health and the community as well. It It is better to put your resources to a program that will provide the greatest benefit to most number of people.

4. Is the "medical mission" helping the local health system?
Each locality has an existing health care system. In low-to-middle income countries (LMIC) like the Philippines, it might not be as effective as we want it. But are the medical missions we are conducting helping the system or are we competing against them? Check if there are local health centers and health workers in the area. It will be unfortunate to conduct medical missions without their participation. You might miss creating a bigger and lasting impact.

5. Is the medical mission highly dependent on donations?
Do you conduct the medical missions on a regular basis or only when the resources are available? How will this impact continuity of health care to the people? If the reason why the medical mission was done in the area is because medical services are really needed, what does it mean to provide only once in a "Blue Moon" health services to them or only when resources are available? Limited resources is better placed in programs with the greatest health outcomes for all.

6.  Is the group concern with the health of the people or are they just using it as leverage for their own purpose?
What could be the driving force for the medical mission? Some churches have conditions for the beneficiaries, they offer only medical services only after the beneficiaries have participated in a Bible Study by the group. Politicians leverage it for their election. Groups use it to promote their products. Or do they simply want to help improve the health of the most number of people regardless of nothing to gain in return?

Effective altruism does not question the intent of the people to help others. For many utilitarians like Dr. Singer, they question the impact and effectiveness of the help offered. Effective altruism, thus, puts into proper perspective how medical missions can effectively impact the health of the wider-community. Were the resources used properly? But for virtuous doctors, the question really is, can the medical missions effectively help me become a virtuous doctor? Are the medical missions the best venue in forming in me virtues that will make me an excellent doctor?  For Christian doctors, can these medical missions be the best way for us to achieve Christ-likeness? Will these activities form in me virtuous of magnificence? Do I practice generosity?

For in generosity, I am helping the best way I can to a person who needs me most.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Breaking the Bad News

Virtuous doctors are humans with a heart for their patients and their patient's families. They recognize the "importance of their role" in breaking the bad news to the family members.

Doctors can be God's instrument of healing their wounded heart if they allow God to use them.

Watch and learn.
Oh those #TearsOfGreys feels! ������ #GreysAnatomy
Posted by Grey's Anatomy on Lunes, Oktubre 19, 2015

Monday, September 21, 2015

Work or Charity?

Working hard has always been applauded as an admirable trait. The Proverbs seems to tell us that hardworking people will reap financial benefits. For some healthcare workers, "working hard" means "helping many sick people." But here is the problem. For many, the "working hard" they provide should be reciprocated with financial benefits. We can't deny the fact that the "work" people give is the means of income to support their family. Where do you draw the line where hard work is just plain and simple charity? What would be the source of financial wealth for those whose "work" are not compensated justly?

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Community Medicine makes you ask this important question...

I attended the National Colloquium on Community Medicine early this month. The speakers where fellow practitioners of Community Medicine. Most of them have been serving in the remote areas of developing countries like the Philippines for decades. One of the social teachings of Christianity is that the Gospels challenges us to have a preferential option for the poor. Repeatedly, the speakers noted that Jesus associated with the poor and sick. I was so captured by their thoughts and insights about their theological views and how it led them to practice medicine in geographically isolated and difficult areas. The poor and the sick is affected by the society one lives in. The doctor, therefore, must be able to consider and address the social conditions if the doctor really wants to treat the sick and poor. One important question captured my mind during that colloquium that I think every healthcare provider should consider and struggle with:

Is Christianity and Capitalism compatible?

The Philippines has an open market economy greatly influenced by the capitalist ideals of the Western world. The capitalist economy promises good life for its hardworking people. As of August 2015, the Philippine government prides itself as one of the fastest growing economy in Asia with a current annual GDP of 5.2% in Q1 and an IMF forecast of growth as high as 6.7%. However, the economic growth is not felt by the common masses as most live in poor condition. The latest SWS survey in the Q1 of 2015 shows 51% of Filipinos perceive themselves as poor. It seems the people that benefited from the growth of the economy are only the rich. The Forbes reported in 2014 that the 50 richest Filipino collectively earned almost half of the Philippine GDP. The 50 richest Pinoys earned $8.45 Billion in 2014 which is 51% of the $16.6 billion earned by the country.  Thus the cliche, the rich is getting richer and sadly the poor is becoming poorer.

The question then, how did 85% of the Filipino people who are Christians allow such injustice to take place? Regardless of affiliation, the Roman Catholic and the Protestant church have great influence in the mind and attitudes of the people. The mainline Christian teaching is to help the poor and the needy yet the Filipino people exist in a capitalist economy that seems to do the opposite? Is capitalism incompatible with the Christian teaching or is it being abused? But Jay Richards says that capitalism is the solution. If capitalism rightly drives us to do our best to produce better quality products, be competitive in a setting with equal opportunity to succeed and rid ourselves of poverty; should Christianity then blame the poor for being lazy, not competitive enough and responsible for their poor state?

What do you think?


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Learn how to start a Health Ministry in your church. Invite us to help you conduct seminars and workshops. 
I'd love to hear from you. Share your insights and thoughts in the comment below. 

Sunday, July 5, 2015

What makes Health Promotion programs in churches successful?

The Bible is replete with stories and messages about taking care of our physical health. Jesus ministering and healing the sick shows us the importance of health in our life. Throughout history, Christians have been on the forefront of promoting good health among people. Today, health promotion in churches is arguably the best health ministry local churches can implement. It is cost-efficient, sustainable and effective program available. But not all programs will become successful. 
There are certain elements that makes a health promotion in churches successful. A research done by Jane Peterson et al (Peterson, 2002) in 2002 reviewed the literature on health promotion and identified seven elements that made the program achieve its intended goals. They were able to identify the following elements of a successful health promotion ministry:
1.       Partnerships
2.       Positive health values
3.       Availability of services
4.       Access to church facilities
5.       Community-focused interventions
6.       Health behavior change
7.       Supportive social relationships

As the church year starts this month and ministry planning coming, take time to consider these elements. Reviewing our existing health ministries and ensuring these elements are present can help us achieve the desired outcomes of our programs. 


Join the Church Health Ministry FB Group Page to know other church health ministries.  
Learn how to start a Health Ministry in your church. Invite us to help you conduct seminars and workshops. 
I'd love to hear from you. Share your insights and thoughts in the comment below. 

Monday, June 1, 2015

5 Things You Must Do When Moving

Packing things
Almost every year or two, we move to a new place. As missionaries, moving is nothing new to us. But it is still stressful every time we move. So to help ease out the stress, we do some simple things before we move to a new place. Let me share with you five things we observe to reduce our stress.

1. Search out the new place.
 - You can visit the new location and get familiar with the area. Familiarize yourself with the area and with the people too. We attended worship service in the closest church to our new home in the area just to familiarize with the people as well. If this is not physically possible, you can always check the place online.

2. Say good bye to the place.
- It is important to acknowledge that we are leaving a certain place and must bid it farewell. These places have special memories to us and oftentimes it has emotional attachments to us. Weeks before we left, we include in our prayers saying goodbye to the place and the memories it holds for us. This is where I taught my kids to ride a bike, celebrated Christmas and New Year together and other memories. Saying goodbyes help put closure and eases the stress on the emotions.

3. Say good bye to friends.
Goodbye Cards
- Or at least inform them that you may not be seeing them as frequent as before. People might hate saying goodbyes, but kids need this kind of activity to put order and closure in the part of their lives. We had our kids set one day to send goodbye cards and gifts to their teachers and friends as they will be moving to a new school. It is important to emphasize that goodbyes does not necessarily mean the friendships will end but that staying in a particular place does.

4. Move at night.
- Traffic is bad. But traffic eases out during night time. So plan to move your stuff at night time. I also love the image of moving at night and finishing all the transfers as the dawn breaks. It just sets the setting where God prepares something new with the new day.

5. Bless the household before moving in.
- As in literally before moving in, you must bless the household. Not just the house and the place but the people in the household. More than the new place, the people involved - the parents, the kids, the relatives who are moving - needs God's blessing and guidance. Before we even open the door of the new place and put the first box inside, we prayed together outside the new place and ask God to bless the household. God provides the comfort and the peace to remove all the stresses involved in moving to a new place.

We're moving today. Happy moving.

Monday, May 18, 2015

The girl effect: The clock is ticking

Early teenage pregnancy is a problem in our country that needs attention. In my practice, I have seen young teenage mothers. I even had a 12-year old girl with her second pregnancy. How can such things happen?

One of the things that greatly affects our society is the rising number of unwanted early pregnancy. Young women as early as age 8 are being  readied for arranged marriages. This is a tall matter as culture plays a big factor here. However, health promotion and educating the community can help them understand the health implications of such practices.We need to do something about this. The clock is ticking.


Join the Church Health Ministry FB Group Page to know other church health ministries.  
Learn how to start a Health Ministry in your church. Invite us to help you conduct seminars and workshops. 
I'd love to hear from you. Share your insights and thoughts in the comment below.