This summer the UCSB Global Medical and Dental Brigades will travel to Honduras to provide free health services to communities with limited access to medical care.

Although the volunteer organizations are primarily comprised of undergraduate students, they will also be accompanied by medical doctors, dentists, nurses and other medical professionals. This year, Global Medical and Dental Brigades will embark on a week-long trip to Honduras in June, visiting communities with limited health care access and providing services such as fluoride treatment and prostate exams. The brigades first began in 2004 and currently assist underdeveloped countries through nine skill-based programs.

The organizations spend three days in each community they visit, giving members of the local community adequate time to receive medial consultations and services like pap smears and restorative dental care.

According to Global Medical Brigades Vice President of Fundraising Camy Mahmoudian, a fourth-year biology major, the Global Brigades is the largest student-led organization devoted to completing health and sustainability projects worldwide. Mahmoudian said the organizations allow students and professionals alike to medically assist underdeveloped communities while still respecting local customs and culture.

According to Mahmoudian, the undergraduate students will lend a hand to medical professionals by taking patients’ vitals, assessing their history and observing their major medical symptoms.

Since student volunteers are given the opportunity to shadow and assist medically licensed individuals, they are provided with valuable experience in the field of international medicine and dentistry while also making a positive global impact, according to Mahmoudian.

“The majority of the group going to Honduras is comprised of undergraduates,” Mahmoudian said. “Most of the students are pre-medical students but it is in no way limited to just science majors or pre-med students.”

All patients receive free consultations and medications courtesy of the Global Medical Brigades, with necessary medications and supplies being attained from non-government organizations. However, group members cannot rely solely on these provisions to fulfill community needs, so extensive fundraising is always necessary, Mahmoudian said.

“All the fundraising that Global Medical Brigades does, as a group, goes toward the medications and supplies necessary to ensure we are able to run an effective clinic,” Mahmoudian said.

In order to continue to serve communities in Honduras, there will be many events during Spring Quarter 2013 to help raise money, including events at Sam’s To Go and Woodstock’s Pizza, as well as a grilled cheese sale this Saturday night on Del Playa Drive and a fundraiser at I.V. Drip next Tuesday.



Photo courtesy of Kristen Skinner.
A version of this article appeared on page 4 of March 6th, 2013′s print edition of the Nexus.