Table 1

Benefits of working with international medical volunteers and VSO

SubthemeQIllustrative quotes
Service provision1“[the volunteers] help us, we are understaffed here… [they] really give us a helping hand… these volunteers are really doing work and helping.” (P7, GRRH)
2“what I expect from them is …. service delivery.” (P14, PM, GRRH)
Increased quality of care3“people were fearing the government facilities… they were running away but since VSO have come… we have now increased our delivery rate, patient [are] appreciating, outside politicians are really appreciating our work.” (P6, GRRH)
Teaching4“we have continuous medical education. We get to teach and share with each other. She gives us knowledge, we get to contribute….” (P5, GRRH)
Mentoring5“the biggest impact is the mentorship of our interns, it is very beneficial.” (P5,GRRH)
6“the ones that have gained some knowledge go down and mentor at the lower facilities… capacity building through mentorship.” (P13, VSO Gulu)
Good work ethic7“[volunteers] report earlier than us… it has also motivated us because when you see them coming at that very early time you also say ‘ahh if I’m late I should also copy’.” (P7, GRRH)
Staff empowerment8“I gained self confidence in myself though the volunteers… they encouraged me, in the training, how to handle a situation, they gave me a lot.” (P7, GRRH)
Implementation of audits9“before the volunteers came, they [neonatal units] were not really critical about auditing death. When the volunteers came, they came up with a checklist about what needs to happen and ensure that is followed strictly.” (P16, VSO Kampala)
Demonstration of desire to help10“if someone commits to come and volunteer, it is inspiring to us and also local communities, because I mean you could easily be doing something else but if you choose to come and do this, then we really need to support you to do what you are doing because you are an inspiration.” (P16, VSO Kampala)
11“volunteers are not paid because they are worthless but because they are priceless… there is an awful amount of value that they impact when they come.” (P17, VSO Kampala)
Intercultural learning12“having a diverse group of people promotes transparency and accountability because you have people coming in with an open mind to support which really gives the opportunity to see things… [from] an outside perspective… they are able to give valuable input to how things can change positively.” (P16, VSO Kampala)
Impact in a wider context13“during conferences they [volunteers] have been able to share broadly with the wider community in Uganda… others say, ‘come and teach us, come’. …there is a discussion going on at the Ministry [of health] would like to support Gulu to become a learning centre… a model hospital for all the other hospitals around to learn from them in terms of neonatal care. And we are happy, that’s a big impact, because people now see and appreciate.” (P12, VSO Gulu)
Resource provision14“us alone we have the knowledge but… we are lacking the facilities to work on the patient it is a very big problem. That is when they [VSO] help us.” (P3, RHC)
15“they [VSO] have been so essential and in my experience I worked in this place, when they renovated the neonatal unit, without them we were losing so many babies.” (P14, PM, GRRH)
Support16“they [VSO] are always coming to check on us, that is a good part, they always come and check on us, ‘how are you going with work?’, ‘how are you working with the volunteers we have sent’ so they have not forgotten us.” (P10, GRRH)
  • GRRH, Gulu Regional Referral Hospital; PM, programme manager; RHC, regional health centre; VSO, Voluntary Service Overseas.