Non Governmental Organisations

Examples of Non-Governmental Organisations working in Low and Middle Income Countries


There are currently over 40,000 internationally operating non-governmental organisations (NGOs). Therefore, the list below is not exhaustive by any means but offers information and links to some of the main organisations involved in international health.


Action Against Hunger


Action Against Hunger is an international, non-governmental, non-religious, non-profit making organisation with programmes in 43 different countries. Its vocation is to save live, especially those of malnourished children, and to work with vulnerable populations to preserve and resource their livelihoods with dignity.


Action Aid


ActionAid is a partnership of people who are fighting for a world without poverty, in which every person can exercise their right to a life of dignity. It works with poor and marginalised people to help eradicate poverty by overcoming the injustice and inequity that cause it.


Alma Mata Global Health Network 


Alma Mata is a network of healthcare professionals interested in global health. It provides regular updates on global health news, events, education and careers and runs its own events including careers fairs, lectures and conferences.  

It also aims to facilitate the development of clearer pathways for postgraduate education and careers.


Anaesthesia that is safe : e-SAFE


e-SAFE has been developed and funded by the Royal College of Anaesthetists (RCoA) and Association of Anaesthetists of Great Britain and Ireland (AAGBI) as an educational tool to support the education, training and continuing professional development of those who are responsible for delivering safe anaesthesia, critical care and pain medicine in resource poor environments.




Bond is the UK membership body for organisations working in international development or supporting those that do through funding, research, training and other services. It has around 400 members ranging from large agencies with a world-wide presence to smaller, specialist organisations working in certain regions or with specific groups of people.


It works to influence governments and policy-makers, develop the skills of people in the sector, build organisational capacity and effectiveness and provide opportunities to exchange information, knowledge and expertise


Chain of Hope 


Chain of Hope is a register UK charity that began in 1995. Its aim is that all children around the world to have access to the cardiac treatment they need. It does this by building local, sustainable, cardiac services in countries which don't have the skills or facilities to do this. It does this by bringing together a chain of volunteers from around the world to help make this happen. 


Child Family Health International


Child Family Health International (CFHI) is an NGO that specialises in placing health science students on global health education programs in five different countries spread over twenty different sites. They support local healthcare workers in a socially responsible and sustainable way with a priority to community engagement and local integrity. So far over 5000 students have enrolled from over 35 countries.



Disability and Mental Health : MAITS


MAITS (Multi-Agency International Training and Support) is an international disability charity which improves access to healthcare and education services by providing capacity-building to health and education professionals working in the mainstream and disability sectors in under-resourced countries.


Drugs for Neglected Diseases


Drugs for Neglected Disease focuses on developing the best treatments for neglected infectious diseases and is made up of a collaboration of different organisations. It discovers, develops and delivers new treatments for neglected patients around the world that are affordable and patient-friendly



Engineeers Without Borders


Engineers Without Borders UK sets out to lead a movement for change to embed global responsibility into the heart of engineering. It educates the engineers of tomorrow, addresses engineering inequality around the world, helps to arrangement placements and carries out research. 


Equipment : Medical Aid International 


Medical Aid International is a social enterprise that aims to support healthcare in low resource environments by supplying new and appropriately recycled medical equipment, accessories, training and biomedical support taylor made for specific situations. It provides a beginning to end service with long term support. 


Health Poverty Action


Health Poverty Action works with some of the poorest and most marginalised communities in Africa, Asia and Latin America, often in very difficult environments.  It works to enable these communities to achieve both immediate and long-term improvements to their health, promoting this as one of their fundamental human rights. At the same time we campaign for the changes in policies and practices needed to create and sustain good health among the world's poorest people.

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Maddox Jolie-Pitt Foundation


Maddox Jolie-Pitt Foundation (MJP) was founded in 2003 for the conservation of Cambodia's endangered Cardamon mountains. Since then they have extended the field projects to include; health, education, rural planning, agriculture and micro-enterprise. They are working towards achieving the UN's Millennium Development Goals. The Improving Global Health through Leadership Development programme of Health Education England has a link with the organisation. 


Malaria Consortium


Malaria Consortium is an organisation dedicated to improving delivery of prevention and treatment to combat malaria and other communicable diseases in Africa and Asia.




MapAction is a non-governmental organisation with the capacity to deploy a fully trained and equipped humanitarian mapping and information management team to emergency situations anywhere in the world, often within just hours.

It delivers mapped information about what is happening on the ground. This helps to create a 'shared operational picture', which is crucial for making informed decisions and delivering emergency aid to the right place quickly. 


Maternity Care Africa 


Maternity Care Africa is a not-for-profit organisation that provides fistula treatment and quality maternity care for all marginalised women throughout Tanzania, where it is estimated that around 3,000 new cases of fistulae develop each year. The organisation can occasionally take volunteers. 


Medical Aid Films


Medical Aid Films provides grass-roots education through film. This is used to train skilled health practitioners, educate community healthworkers and raise awareness in the community. 


Medecins Sans Frontiers (MSF)


Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is an independent international medical humanitarian organisation that delivers emergency aid in more than 60 countries to people affected by armed conflict, epidemics, natural or man-made disasters or exclusion from healthcare.


In emergencies and their aftermath, MSF rehabilitates and runs hospitals and clinics, performs surgery, battles epidemics, carries out vaccination campaigns, operates feeding centres for malnourished children and offers mental health care. When needed, MSF also constructs wells, dispenses clean drinking water, and provides shelter materials like blankets and plastic sheeting.


Through longer-term programmes, MSF treats patients with infectious diseases such as tuberculosis, sleeping sickness and HIV/AIDS and provides medical and psychological care to marginalised groups such as street children.


Medical Peace Work 


Medical Peace Work is an organisation that provides education about how war and human rights violations affect health, how health workers can make a contribution and speak out for the prevention of violence and the promotion of peace. It is involved with a network of similar organisations in Europe and provides a free online course through a MOOC. 




IHP (International Health Partners) is Europe's largest co-ordinator of donated medicines, providing a professional service to enable healthcare companies and aid agencies to support patients who cannot access the medicine they need. Their work include supplying a range of essential medicines in pre-packed kits (Doctors' Travel Packs).


Mercy Ships


Mercy Ships provide free surgery, medical care and works with local communities by training local staff and offering advice. It started in 1978 after the purchase of a retired ocean liner which was converted into a floating hospital.

The ship had 3 operating theatres, a 40 bed ward and a volunteer crew of 350. Since then their fleet has expanded and they have served in more than 150 ports in developing nations around the world.




Merlin was an international health charity set up in 1993 to responded to international disasters. It merged with Save the Children in 2013 


Since 1993 they have worked in 39 countries and responded to disasters such as the Rwandan genocide, the Indian Ocean tsunami, the Haitian earthquake and the Myanmar cyclone.


Primary Trauma Care Foundation 


The Primary Trauma Care Foundation was developed in 1996 and works in many countries across the world. It exists to save lives and prevent disabilities in Low and Middle Income Countries. It teaches front-line health workers how to deliver emergency medical care with only basic equipment. Training is then cascaded by local staff to others. 


Project C.U.R.E.


Project C.U.R.E was founded in 1987 with a goal of delivering medical supplies, equipment and services to developing countries around the world. Since it was set up it has delivered much needed medical relief to people in over 120 countries.




RedR helps to rebuild people's lives by providing international aid workers with the skills they need to make a difference.


  • Build the skills of local people and communities in areas of disaster
  • Deliver expert training in the UK and in the field
  • Advise international relief and development organisations
  • Recruit humanitarian professionals who can respond to emergencies or take longer-term placements 
  • Provide online expertise to aid workers on assignment
  • Support a network of members who are vital to humanitarian work.


In the event of emergencies RedR will select and train engineers responsible for water, sanitation and hygiene promotion and brief aid workers before they travel to the region. It will also continue to build the skills of local people after the emergency has subsided and run security training directly in unstable regions. Its UK training courses are used year-round by relief and development professionals to improve their skills in a vast range of topics, including preparing for emergencies and camp management.


Save the Children 


Save the Children is devoted to meeting the needs of children across the world and its work includes 


  • Conflict and Humanitarian Situations
  • Health
  • Education
  • Nutrition
  • Policy, Research and Evidence
  • Civil Society Networks


The Tropical Health Education Trust (THET)


THET is committed to improving access to and the quality of health services in developing countries. It believes that the most effective way of doing this is to work in partnership with those delivering and running health care, helping to strengthen and extend existing services.


It helps forge long term links between health institutions in developing countries and their counterparts in the UK. Partners identify priorities for strengthening their health services. It respond by linking them with a health institution in the UK that has the knowledge and skills to help them to address these priorities. Once the Link has been established it continues to provide advice and support, such as accessing funding, evaluation and networking, and it connects Links with Government strategy.


UK Med 


UK Med is a UK charity that provides emergency medical aid to countries that have experienced some kind of disaster e.g. sudden onset disaster, disease outbreak, conflict. Training is provided for registered volunteers and agreements are reached with employing organisations to release them at short notice. 


Virtual Doctors


Virtual Doctors uses smart phones to support clinical medical officers in Zambia and, more recently, Malawi. Support is provided by UK volunteer doctors responding to structured questions about patients being seen in rural areas. 


Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO)


VSO places volunteers of a variety of ages and backgrounds for periods ranging from one month to two years. Placements are made  in response to requests from governments and community organisations throughout Asia and Africa. The range of jobs is vast, and includes small business advisors, teachers, social workers, health professionals, management consultants, marine biologists, accountants and farmers.



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Funding Sources

There are many sources of funding available from a variety of different organisations; these include charities, professional medical bodies and government funded organisations.   British Charities   The British Charities website provides a guide to charities in the UK, some of which can be approached for funding support.   BMA Humanitarian Fund   The Fund aims to support health professionals in undertaking humanitarian work and is funded jointly by the BMA, Royal College of Nursing, and the Department of Health (England).   Grants of up to £3000 are available to individual projects to cover incidental costs, such as travel expenses and accommodation. Proposed projects should offer clear health benefits to the local population and must be sustainable. The project must involve at least one current NHS employee.   Individuals interested in applying to the Humanitarian Fund, should contact the BMA's International department on or on 020 7383 6133 or 020 7383 6793, or download the application form from the BMA website.   BMA Information Fund   The BMA Information Fund is run in association with Health Books International (operated by Practical Action Publishing, the publishing arm of the charity Practical Action). HBI sources, produces and distributes practical and accessible health information and educational materials designed for use in low-resource settings.   The materials provided by the fund are clearly written, illustrated and relevant to the many health workers worldwide who operate with limited access to electricity and reliable internet connections, sophisticated equipment or medicines.   Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO)   The UK Governement is a source of funding for some types of work and a Funding Finder Tool has been set up by the FCDO to help potential applicants find Official Development Assistance funding opportunities that exist across all UK Governement departments.    The Health Partnership Scheme is an allocation to support the development of Health Partnerships between UK organisations and partners abroad. The Tropical Health Education Trust (see below) administers this allocation.    Hub Cymru Wales    Hub Cymru Wales collates information from various sources about funding opportunities that might be of use for people working in global health. It keeps interested people informed of these through its newsletter.    Medical Elective Funding   The BMA has an excellent directory of sources of funding which medical students can apply to for elective grants.   Overseas Surgical Fellowship   The Association of Surgeons of Great Britain and Ireland, in partnership with the British Journal of Surgery Society Ltd, are offering Fellowships to sponsor surgeons wishing to work in a developing country, primarily in the least developed countries, on a short-term basis. The purpose of the Fellowships is to provide training and support for overseas medical schools in the development of their postgraduate training programmes and, thereby, establishing links with these centres.   The principles of the Overseas Surgical Fellowships are to establish links with surgical centres in developing countries. These links are to provide the opportunity for teaching and postgraduate training of surgeons overseas and, where appropriate, to encourage the exchange of surgeons. In order to allow at least five Fellowships each year, a maximum grant of £2000 will be awarded to each successful applicant.   South West International Development Network   The South West International Development Network periodically advertises funding opportunities that are relevent for both service and academic work in Low and Middle Income Countries.    Tropical Health Education Trust (THET)   THET manages the Government's Health Partnership Scheme to support institutions and professionals in partnerships with low-income countries, to improve health outcomes by sharing skills and capacity building. More information about the scheme is available on its website.  

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Safety, Insurance and Pensions

Safety and Health    It is important to become aware of the health hazards of the particular country where you will be. The chances of having a road traffic accident, for example, might be much higher than contracting malaria. Other factors, such as political instability or the chance of natural disaster, should also be taken into account.    Sources of advice    Foreign Travel Advice is the Government's advice about travelling to individual countries.    "Vacation Disaster Preparation Safety Guide" provides a wide range of information that might be useful.  Anyone likely to travel in a high Covid risk area might also find the "Loveholidays" website useful. It provides information about what is happening in various countries and links to other useful websties.    Immunisations : Advice and vaccinations are available through your local general practice.    InterHealth in London provides a service for individuals before, during and after working abroad.    Insurance : GoCompare website provides useful guidance about the travel insurance that different companies offer. It is important to be very clear on the detail of what is and what is not covered by the insurance you choose.     Professional Registration and Indemnity    Registration : If volunteering involves carrying out professional duties, then the individual needs to be registered to practice in the country they are visiting. Seek advice from your professional body on what you need to do.     Professional Indemnity : You will also need to seek the advice about professional indemnity should anything go wrong whilst practising clinically.    Pensions   Important for individuals who volunteer to work abroad is the protection of continuity of pension contributions whilst absent overseas. It is important to know your own position.    The NHS organisation for which you are working or the organisation for which you will be working for when abroad should be able to advise. More general advice on volunteers rights and expenses can be found from the Department of Work and Pensions.        

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Training to Work Abroad (Pre-Departure Training)

Training to work abroad    The following are examples of resources that help prepare people to work abroad.    Disaster Management Course (Bournemouth University)    The International Disaster Management Course at Bournemouth is a two week course is designed for people with existing or anticipated responsibilities for disaster management. Run by the Disaster Management Centre at Bournemouth University it covers rapid and slow onset natural disasters, human made disasters and complex emergencies.   Emergency Humanitarian Assistance    The Emergency Humanitarian Assistance course is online and for professional development. It is run by the University of Manchester and provides an understanding of the principles of good practice in emergency humanitarian assistance and its place in health care development.   International NGO Training and Research Centre (INTRAC)   INTRAC is a not-for-profit organisation that builds the skills and knowledge of civil society to be more effective in addressing poverty and inequality. It provides training, research,    RedR UK   RedR UK works around the world providing practical, up-to-date training programmes that are delivered by experienced humanitarians. It trains thousands of people each year covering a very wide range of topics - everything from providing emergency shelter to staying safe in the field.   Security Training and Safeguarding   Safer Edge runs courses on Hostile Environment Awareness, Security Management, International Travel Security, Women's Security, Crisis Management.    Travel Aware Campaign   The Travel Aware Campaign is a government initiative to help any from the UK who is travelling abroad to know about the general issues related to their travel and also issues specific to the country they are visiting.    Specialist Medical Areas   Anaesthetics    The Nuffield Department of Anaesthetics based at John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford, runs one and five day courses in anaesthetics for people planning to work in developing countries.   e-SAFE (Safer Anaesthesia from Education) is a bespoke resource developed for anaesthetists in resource limited areas. It has been put together by the Royal College of Anaesthetists, Association of Anaesthetists of Great Britain and Ireland, World Federation of Societies of Anaesthesiologists and e-Learing for Healthcare with support from the Oxford University Press.   Child Health   Child Health in Developing Countries : The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health runs a practical short course for paediatricians interested in global child health or who intend to work overseas.    Disabilities   MAITS (Multi-agency International Training and Support) exists to empower educational and health professionals to enhance and develop the services they provide to people with disabilities in resource-poor settings through sharing knowledge and practice.   Medical Peace Work   Medical Peace Work provides free online courses that deal with the role and professional responsibility of health workers in violence prevention and sustainable peace.  

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