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Health volunteering seen mismatched to need

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More than ever, health-related volunteers are eager to put their efforts to use overseas, but too often they are not sent to areas with the greatest need, a new report says.

Areas with shortages of health-care workers often are not the destinations volunteers request to go, says the study of volunteer opportunity search results analyzed by HealthCare Volunteer, a nonprofit based in Los Angeles.

Given that counties with greater barriers to health-care access were less likely to have volunteers search to travel there, the report recommends funders be aware of which countries are receiving disproportionately less support.

Volunteers as well must be educated about the needs in less popular areas.

North Americans wishing to volunteer in Africa tend to choose Kenya, while those traveling to South America opt for Peru and those headed to Asia choose India.

The most popular medical fields among volunteers are nursing, obstetrics and gynecology, the study says.

Of those volunteers listing a preferred religious affiliation, more than six in 10 chose Christianity, followed by almost two in 10 citing Catholicism.

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