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Logo of bmjThis ArticleThe BMJ
BMJ. 2007 June 16; 334(7606): 1236.
PMCID: PMC1892510
Helping the World's Poor

Let's help doctors work in the third world

Andrew L Perkins, former medical missionary

Surely it is not beyond the wit of our profession to devise a scheme that will make it easier for UK health professionals to work overseas either as missionaries, volunteers with non-governmental organisations (NGOs), or in other “bona fide” set-ups. Some of the issues Mabey raises also affect UK doctors wanting to take career breaks in the United Kingdom.1

We need to devise a way that UK doctors working overseas can be part of some form of revalidation. We have an oversupply of doctors at the moment trying to get into the Modernising Medical Careers (MMC) process. Allowing some to opt out to work overseas should be encouraged by recognising the experience they will have gained and facilitating their re-entry into the system.

At the moment UK doctors working overseas cost the UK government nothing. The government could recognise this by helping to pay off debts from student loans and help with the General Medical Council's registration fees, etc. This money could come out of the overseas aid budget.

Some organisations such as the BMA and Medical Protection Society recognise overseas service by offering either free or heavily discounted membership to medical missionaries and NGO volunteers.


Competing interests: ALP was a medical missionary in Mali, West Africa.


1. Mabey D. Improving health for the world's poor. BMJ 2007;334:1126 (2 June.) [PMC free article] [PubMed]

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