Child Family Health International and Collaborators Advance Field of Global Health Education With Updated Guidelines and Consensus for Health-Related Experiences Abroad

Bay Area non-profit instrumental in advancing standards for international healthcare experiences

Child Family Health International- a San Francisco-based, United Nations-recognized non-profit- is a leader in the effort to set guidelines and build consensus around the do’s and don’ts of Global Health experiential learning.  Collaborating with CFHI, The Forum on Education Abroad (FEA), a standard-setting body endorsed by the US Department of Justice, has released updated guidelines for undergraduate health-related programs abroad. These guidelines strengthen the recommendations for universities and facilitating organizations to commit to safety, ethics, and rigorous program design.  

The introduction of a set of guidelines specific to health-related education programs at the undergraduate level comes in the wake of growing popularity of “voluntourism” among young western students. This practice often consists of students engaging in short-term volunteer work that they are not professionally, socially, or culturally equipped to take on, and – though well-intentioned – often perpetuates hurtful stereotypes that exacerbate the disempowerment of poor countries and communities.  

As noted by CFHI Executive Director, Dr. Jessica Evert, “Gone are the days when every student who volunteers in a hospital or clinic in a poor country abroad is praised and congratulated.  Recent advances in understanding about interventions that demonstrably improve Global Health, combined with increased visibility of the harms caused by non-expert healthcare activities, has led to a shift in the fields of international education and volunteering.”

To advance the movement for standards and accountability in the faith-based sector CFHI collaborated with the Catholic Health Association and multiple universities to analyze existing guidelines and synthesize them with common principles. The result of their work was published in "Globalization and Health." Together, these efforts further the leadership of CFHI and provide crucial direction for the fields of Global Health, international education, and volunteering.   

Guidelines for ethical practices in global health shift the focus of these programs away from hands-on clinical work and towards the cultural and contextual education of healthcare in different settings globally, defined by host partners. Child Family Health International, a San Francisco-based nonprofit under the leadership of Dr. Evert, continues to provide the standard of global health education programs through intentional programming around these guidelines.

To learn more about CFHI and global health education, visit

Source: Child Family Health International