Ebola and the Role of Missionary Doctors

Slate recently published a waffling missive questioning the role of missionary doctors in the developing world. The writer himself says that he understands the important role they play, especially when there is a major public health crisis. But something just leaves him feeling… yucky about the whole thing.

Try Freedom has been working on a project the last few months interviewing doctors, nurses, and physical therapists that practice global medicine, often in very remote and underdeveloped areas. Some of these doctors are driven by an equity agenda, or a love of global health, or even their christian faith. Does it really matter? Groups like Samaritan’s Purse are on the front lines,¬†often as the first responders during a crisis. Back in April, the group was warning public health officials of a coming Ebola outbreak. They are so effective because their doctors live in the communities where they practice. If something is happening, they will be first to hear about it.

Not every doctor will choose to dedicate their lives to global medicine. But, the ones that do fill a tragic, gaping hole in the health care system in developing areas. With a rate of doctors per capita in Sierra Leone at 0.0 per 1,000, should we really be questioning their motives?