Suitcase medicine – When good intentions aren’t enough in global health

Individual Author(s) / Organizational Author
Scirto, Kirk
Fox, Maggie
One Health Trust
February 2023
One World, One Health
Abstract / Description

Helping someone less fortunate feels good, right?  But when people from rich countries show up in low- and middle-income countries dispensing goodwill and largesse, their efforts may, at best, be too little and, at worst, could do harm. Dr. Kirk Scirto, a family practice physician in Buffalo, New York, has devoted more than two decades to trying to help others through global health promotion and studying which methods are best for that work.
What he’s found may surprise many people. In his book, Doing Global Health Work, he describes how he found it’s more important to listen to people than to try to tell them what to do. In some of the poorest parts of the world, he’s witnessed that people are perfectly able to help themselves, and they have a better understanding of what they need than outside “do-gooders.”
In this episode of One World, One Health, Dr. Scirto tells host Maggie Fox what he’s learned about suitcase medicine and voluntourism and how he’s working to help others make a positive impact without doing harm. (author introduction)


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P4HE Authored