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01.12.2012 | Research article | Ausgabe 1/2012 Open Access

BMC International Health and Human Rights 1/2012

A comparative study of Taiwan's short-term medical missions to the South Pacific and Central America

BMC International Health and Human Rights > Ausgabe 1/2012
Ya-Wen Chiu, Yi-Hao Weng, Chih-Fu Chen, Chun-Yuh Yang, Hung-Yi Chiou, Ming-Liang Lee
Wichtige Hinweise

Competing interests

All authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Authors’ contributions

YWC, YHW, CFC, and CYY conceived of the analysis and participated in the design and coordination of the study, as well as in the acquisition and interpretation of the data. YWC and YHW conducted the literature review and drafted the initial manuscript. YWC, YHW, and CYY conducted the data analysis and editing. CFC, HYC, and MLL contributed to the overall drafting of the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.



Taiwan has been dispatching an increasing number of short-term medical missions (STMMs) to its allied nations to provide humanitarian health care; however, overall evaluations to help policy makers strengthen the impact of such missions are lacking. Our primary objective is to identify useful strategies by comparing STMMs to the South Pacific and Central America.


The data for the evaluation come from two main sources: the official reports of 46 missions to 11 countries in Central America and 25 missions to 8 countries in the South Pacific, and questionnaires completed by health professionals who had participated in the above missions. In Central America, STMMs were staffed by volunteer health professionals from multiple institutions. In the South Pacific, STMMs were staffed by volunteer health professionals from single institutions.


In comparison to STMMs to Central America, STMMs to the South Pacific accomplished more educational training for local health providers, including providing heath-care knowledge and skills (p<0.05), and training in equipment administration (p<0.001) and drug administration (p<0.005). In addition, language constraints were more common among missions to Central America (p<0.001). There was no significant difference in the performance of clinical service between the two regions.


Health-care services provided by personnel from multiple institutions are as efficient as those from single institutions. Proficiency in the native language and provision of education for local health-care workers are essential for conducting a successful STMM. Our data provide implications for integrating evidence into the deployment of STMMs.
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