(Please Scroll down for VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITIES in 2015 for Southwest Chapter)

In 2000, The World Health Organization (WHO) ranked the health care system of 171 member countries. The United States ranked #37.  The countries where HTCSW generally sends surgical and medical missions are ranked according to the overall level and distribution of health to the population and fair distribution of health care services. Those rankings are: Guatemala 78 ; Ecuador 111  ,  and El Salvador 117 .

Why healing the children has been invited to Latin American countries to assist with a backlog of surgeries for children can be seen in the dismal statistics.  There are inequities in access to health services due to geography, socioeconomic status, gender, and ethnicity.    Please have a look at these statistics from the World Health Organization or Panamerican Health Organization, keeping in mind that these countries suffer from global economic recession,  major earthquakes, hurricanes, volcanic erruptions, civil disturbance, that further tax the health system:  

El Salvador ( pop. 6,700,000; 34% living in poverty)  physicians 7938 (15.5 per 10,000);  # of  surgeons: unknown; number of pediatric surgeons unknown.    Ecuador (pop.  13,365,000   INEC (ENIGHU, February 2003 to February 2004) revealed that 41.5% of population was classified as poor and 8.5% as extremely poor.)  In 2001:  physicians : 13.8 per 10,000  -- # of surgeons is unknown; dentists 1.6 per 10,000 According to Salud Publica 2008, Ecuador has the lowest rate of physician per capita in Latin America.  Guatemala:  (pop. 14,027,000; 43% live at or below poverty level) The ratio of physicians to total population is 9 per 10,000. For every 3 physicians there is only 1 professional nurse; there are less than 10 pediatric surgical specialists for the country   

Visitors to this website who are interested in volunteering for surgical, medical or construction types of trips in countries outside Latin America should take a look at the National Healing the Children Website:                                                      


Healing the Children currently organizes surgical teams to El Salvador, Guatemala, Peru, and Ecuador.   Teams are built around one or two surgical specialties and are limited to approximately 14 volunteers.    A surgical team consists of surgeons, anesthesiologists, operating room and recovery nurses and as needed, pediatricians or family practitioners and therapists.     Travel generally begins on Saturday, screening is done on Sunday; the team operates from Monday through Friday noon.  Return to the United States is usually Saturday or Sunday.   Local residents, physicians, and surgeons are invited to participate during surgery.  An educational exchange time is set aside during each trip as requested by the host hospital and agreed upon by the visiting medical personnel.


Healing the Children also arranges trips for physicians and nurses interested in providing free pediatric clinics to rural areas.  The schedule is the same as for surgical trips, although some physicians request longer stays.   


  • El Salvador - Hospital La Divina Providencia -  Feb 27 - March 5, 2016  ENT and Plastics (Team is complete)  
  • Yantalo, Peru - November 2016 contact Amy Downs  (  for information

Qualifications --  We must have an up-to-date CV or Resume;  Medical licenses must be current and cannot expire during the mission dates;  where applicable we need evidence of specialty training or board certification. Some countries require additional documents such as the volunteer's most recent medical diploma.  References are contacted and credentials and qualifications are examined by our Medical Director.   Many countries require notarization and apostilles for documents and this takes time, so please respond to new opportunities quickly. 

Medical supplies ---  Surgeons and anesthesiologists agree to discuss their specific needs for supplies at least 5 months prior to a mission.  Surgeons should be aware that very few hospitals will have instruments and HTCSW  has very few sets.   All necessary supplies and drugs are transported by the volunteers.   HTCSW requests that everyone  help gather donations of supplies and speak with drug, instrument, and supply repsresentatives about needs for the mission. Everyone is required to use at least one of their "checked baggage allowance" for supplies.  

COSTS --  All expenses are met by the volunteers, including airfare. Prices for meals and lodging vary, and very few will be provided by the host country.  No fees are paid to HTCSW.   Spanish is certainly welcome, but not required.  Some ideas are available for ways volunteers can raise money for their expenses. 

Miscellaneous -- Passports cannot expire during the time of the trip;  personal health insurance and trip cancellation insurance are strongly suggested;  volunteers are encouraged to read the CDC website for up-to-date information regarding immunizations; volunteers must sign a Release from Liability form provided by HTCSW.    HTCSW writes grants requesting funds to pay any expenses families might face (for example, transportation to the hospital), any miscellaneous charges from the hospital, in-country transportation not provided by the host country,  airline baggage fees, apostille fees, etc.  

It sounds like a lot of responsibility falls on the shoulders of the volunteers, and that is true, but for 25 years volunteers have decided that the rewards are worth it.   Interested volunteers should contact HTCSW to discuss a potential mission.   Trips that are already planned  are posted on this website and on the calendar at the HTC National website:     Check to see if volunteers are needed to complete current teams.

Click here to see volunteers for the past 25 years!