Breaking the link between colonialism and global medical missions

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The Global BioEthics Blog is written by Stuart Rennie, Co-Principal Investigator, NIH/Fogarty bioethics grants in DR Congo and South Africa; ethics consultant UNC-Gap projects in DR Congo and Madagascar; Associate Professor in UNC Department of Social Medicine, Core Faculty in UNC Bioethics Center.

Rudyard Kipling spoke to the spirit of the age at the turn of the 20th century when he called on newly minted imperial powers to “go send your sons to exile to serve your captives’ need”. Then, the Western popular imagination was captivated by the myth of the intrepid white civilizer setting off to tame the savage wilds. Unfortunately, this fascination did not die out with the empires it justified. We still see ample evidence of it today, “medical volontourism” being a prime example. Healthcare professionals from Europe and North America are traveling in increasing number to developing countries for short-term assignments.

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Breaking the link between colonialism and global medical missions