1. How is DGH different from other international doctor relief organizations?


DGH is unique in several ways:


  • DGH's mission is not to provide emergency relief. Instead, DGH accompanies local communities to help them fulfill their immediate health needs as a first step towards full empowerment. (However, when emergencies have struck our local partners, we have provided emergency assistance, including after Hurricane Mitch in El Salvador, Nicaragua and Honduras in 1998, and the 2001 earthquakes in El Salvador.)


  • DGH members are not just physicians or even health professionals. They include engineers, artists, teachers, nurses, public health workers, lawyers, business people, retired people, students and others.


  • DGH encourages students of all walks of life to participate.


  • DGH works at the synergy of health, education, human rights and art.



2. What does it mean to "accompany" communities?


Amplifying voices, responding to invitations, sharing risk and responsibility, in short accompaniment means being there; working side by side with our fellow human beings to create conditions that demand and facilitate social justice in the understanding that the same chains bind us all, even if some have had more opportunities and easier lives. As Dr. Jack Geiger put it in his keynote speech at the 2002 DGH General Assembly: "What we are really saying to the people we work with is that their lives are as worthy as our own; that their lives are as worthy of life as everyone else's; that all life is equally valuable. And what we, by our presence and our work, demonstrate is a commitment to the idea of equity, not as an abstraction, but as something that has to do immediately and directly with the lives of the people we work with."


3. What does "community-oriented primary care" mean?


Making public health and primary care initiatives community directed, meaningful and lasting through a participatory approach that promotes community leadership and control and provides basic health care services.


4. What does "participatory investigation" mean?


An essential part of community-oriented primary care, participatory investigation involves being invited by the community, working with the community as it defines itself to explore its own strengths and weaknesses in health, establish priorities toward better health, develop initiatives to address the chosen priorities and evaluate the success of the initiatives. Listening to the community often leads to projects that might not be traditionally considered health-related, but which are vital to the health of the community as a whole.


5. Why do you work in some communities, but not others?


As part of DGH's strong belief in community empowerment, we only work in communities where we have been invited. However, we have not been able to respond to all the invitations we have received from communities around the world because our resources are limited. The DGH Board has the difficult task of deciding where our resources can do the most good.


6. Where do you get your funding?


Our funding comes mostly from individual donors that support our mission and goals. Some donate for work in a particular country, others support DGH in general. This general support is particularly appreciated as it allows DGH as an organization to continue making the work with the communities possible. It also allows DGH to allocate funds as needed among all its projects.


DGH is also supported by private foundations, such as Atkinson Foundation, Levi Strauss Foundation, Mulago Foundation, and the Ford Foundation. DGH does not seek US Government funds, such as from U.S.A.I.D., which allows much more independence in our program decisions. For the same reason, we do not allow more than fifty percent of our funding to come from any one source.


DGH is very frugal with its funds. Board members and international volunteers pay all their own expenses, including airfare, and room and board. These in-kind contributions, which totaled more than $20,000 last year (not included in revenues), have allowed 95 percent of DGH funds to go directly to its program activities.


In 2000, the IRS officially awarded DGH permanent 501(c)3 non-profit status after the obligatory five-year probation period.


If you would like to support our work, your tax-deductible donation would be much appreciated and, since DGH has very low administrative costs, goes a long way. Click on the "donate now" link to do so.


7. How do I join Doctors for Global Health?


DGH has several membership categories, allowing you to become as involved with DGH as you desire. DGH is unique in how democratic an organization it is. Unlike most other groups, anyone can become a Board Member of DGH and have true impact on the organization's direction and activities. All membership categories require that you agree with DGH's Mission Statement and Principles of Action. For more information read a description of DGH Membership Categories.


8. How can I help?


You can:


  • Donate money and/or supplies.


  • Volunteer internationally and/or locally.


  • Tell your friends and colleagues about DGH and why you believe in our mission, or send us the names and addresses of people you know who you think would be interested in DGH. You can download a DGH flier in PDF format to print and distribute (Spanish version).


  • Buy DGH shirts, buttons and more at the DGH Online Store. The profits go to further our mission.



9. I can take a two-week vacation this summer. Can I be an international volunteer?


A stay of two months or more is ideal for volunteer work in most places. Usually only past volunteers can volunteer for such short periods of time because they are already familiar with the project and can jump right in to some useful work. Our volunteers are generally reviewed and accepted by members or representatives of the communities where they will be placed. Most of our partner organizations will not accept short-term volunteers because of the time invested in getting each volunteer up to speed on the work that needs to be done.


If you have only two weeks, we suggest to go on delegations with human rights organizations, such as Witness for Peace and Global Exchange. You can also spend that time in intensive Spanish courses in a country like Guatemala, where a language school can place you with a local family.


10. How do I volunteer internationally?


Complete an online volunteer application here.  From there you will be contacted by a DGH member and interviewed, and if accepted as a volunteer, directed to a partner community's site coordinator.


11. Do I need to speak fluent Spanish if volunteering in Latin America?


Spanish is needed because clear communication is vital for working within our partner communities. However, in Xela, many volunteers are still polishing their language skills and are able to take advantage of the resources available in the town to also enroll in a Spanish language course.  For example, you may be able to volunteer in the clinic ½ day and then take classes for the rest.  Individual options may vary based on the needs of the site.


12. Where would I live as a volunteer?


Each partner community is different. In some situations, volunteers live with host families. In others, they live in an apartment linked to the primary clinic or rent a room or an apartment in the community. Volunteers are responsible for paying for their living expenses.   More site-specific details are provided before your trip to help arrange accommodations. 


13. Where are your offices located?


DGH does not currently have physical office space. This allows us to put more of the money you donate to our projects and less to administration. Since we are at present an all volunteer organization, our board members and volunteers work through e-mail and conference calls, as well as in-person meetings twice a year. DGH is incorporated in Georgia, which is where our Post Office Box and bank are located. Board members in Atlanta volunteer to pick up DGH mail and answer DGH phone calls. You can contact DGH at:


Doctors for Global Health

P. O. Box 1761

Decatur, GA 30031, U.S.A.

(404) 377-3566 (fax and voice)