Home Institution

University of Washington

Publication Date

Spring 2012

Program Name

Nepal: Development and Social Change


Short-term health camps are a growing form of delivering health care services to needy populations. Often these camps, usually lasting around 2 weeks, are led by I/NGOs in developing nations like Nepal and are staffed with volunteers from the Global North. These camps are largely ungoverned, and there are no evaluative techniques in place to monitor the effectiveness of the work done, raising concerns about the unintended consequences of short-term health camps camps. Nepal is particularly vulnerable to this issue because of the vast number of I/NGOs currently operating within its boundaries.

This research sought to expand the conversation surrounding medical volunteerism and health camps and to examine perceptions surrounding health camps and approaches to health development in Nepal from the perspectives of I/NGO staff working in the country. Through semi-structured interviews, key aspects of I/NGOs’ approaches to health development and views and experiences surrounding health camps were identified. Research findings show that many I/NGO workers are aware of the limitations and ethical implications of temporary health camps, such as inadvertent medical harm, circumventing the root cause of poverty and ill health, and encouragement of paternalistic attitudes. A strong need is expressed for more effective governance of I/NGOs’ health development work.


Community Health and Preventive Medicine | Health and Medical Administration | Health Services Research | Policy Design, Analysis, and Evaluation | Public Health Education and Promotion | Rural Sociology | Work, Economy and Organizations


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