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Aussie Maps NFPs in Developing Countries

23 January 2014 at 8:31 am
Staff Reporter
An Australian researcher is trying to map the Not for Profit, non-government hospitals and clinics in developing countries that operate on a hand-to-mouth existence to save lives.

Staff Reporter | 23 January 2014 at 8:31 am


Aussie Maps NFPs in Developing Countries
23 January 2014 at 8:31 am

An Australian researcher is trying to map the Not for Profit, non-government hospitals and clinics in developing countries that operate on a hand-to-mouth existence to save lives.

ANU PhD student, Belinda Thompson has set herself the challenge of mapping the existence of these hospitals and clinics that sit outside the health system in developing countries, with many of them existing outside the reaches of the internet.

“They usually sit outside the established health system and are largely invisible in reviews of the health sector even though the anecdotal evidence shows they save tens of thousands of lives each year,” Thompson said.

“What I'm aiming to do is develop a typology of these facilities and then do three in-depth case studies. To do that, I need to get together a preliminary list of the facilities – not an easy task given that they're not registered in most countries and so there is no official records to work through.

“We are talking about possibly thousands of clinics, many of which are faith-based missions mainly in Africa and Papua New Guinea as well as centres in other developing countries such as Haiti and Ethiopia."

Thompson said the problem was that there was no centralised list of these Not for Profit hospitals and clinics that had inconsistent, transient funding which sees them operate on a hand to mouth existence.

One example Thompson gives is the Hamlin Fistula Hospital in Ethiopia setup 40 years ago by Australian doctors Reg and Catherine Hamlin. It’s an obstetrics and training hospital for women with childbirth injuries operating on donated funds.

Thompson said Reg Hamlin passed away in 1993 and his wife Catherine continues to work at the hospital at the age of 90.

“This research is vitally important because these facilities are literally saving tens of thousands of lives, yet we know very little about them,” Thompson said.

“I am hopeful that by the end of my PhD research not only will the donor community know more about their work, but the facilities themselves will find synergies and ways they could work together to grow and prosper in the future.”

The first step in Thompson’s process is a four-question survey which attempts to capture information beyond the reaches of traditional academic literature launching an appeal for the Pro Bono community to  take part in the survey.

“Attempting to ‘map’ the sector is incredibly difficult because so many of these facilities fly beneath the radar, unattached to major non-government organisations and un-represented at key institutions,” Thompson said.

“People working in the Not for Profit area might have heard of a facility through their work or come across them when they’ve been working on other projects.  In the broader community, people often became aware of these facilities through personal experience or through friends associated with a facility because they’ve donated, visited or volunteered there.

“Sometimes they are included in grey literature like donor reports as part of an anecdote or as an off-hand reference.

“So I need to tap into that ‘word of mouth’ community; I need people to rack their memories and see what they come up with. Even if the answer is nothing, that is still relevant and so I’m hoping people will answer the survey regardless.”

To complete the survey go to:

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