Local nonprofit creates more sustainable healthcare globally


The Palmetto Medical Initiative changed its name to OneWorld Health and sets up clinics and hospitals in Nicaragua and Uganda. This nonprofit isn’t like other medical missions in Central America and Africa. They say they are different because they set communities up for continued success.

Co-founder of OneWorld Health, Edward O’Bryan, M.D., says, “That’s the ultimate beauty of our nonprofit and something that really sets us apart. If we were to go away today and never go back to Africa, never go back to Nicaragua, our clinics would continue to run. Our large hospital in Uganda would continue to do surgeries, continue to birth babies, and that’s really the beauty of it that it’s not dependent on us.”

This works by training locals to take over the medicine, teaching them to be doctors, nurses, and techs. This helps take the burden off of other doctors in the community, who are already overwhelmed.

O’Bryan says, “Here in the United States, the ratio of doctors to patients is one doctor for every 400 patients, or so, roughly. In areas we’ve worked in Burundi it’s one to every 33,000 and in areas in Uganda now it’s one doctor to every 8,500 people.”

And they equip these new facilities with the latest technology.

O’Bryan says, “Now we have x-rays, for example, and before there was only one x-ray machine that worked 40% of the time for that same population of about 600,000 people. Now we have a first world x-ray machine and three or four amazing, world class ultrasound machines in Uganda, same in Nicaragua. So the technology we’re providing is at a much, much higher level, these are the same machines that we would use here.”

These medical centers are opened with money from donations.

OneWorld Health’s International Director, Michael O’Neal, says, “For about $250,000 we’re able to acquire land, build facilities, equip facilities, provide training, and hiring staff and provide subsidy for 18 months until that facility becomes self sustaining. All of our facilities are designed within 18 months to be self sustaining off of revenue generated by patient fees.”

They say the benefit comes full circle back to Charleston as their volunteers overseas come back inspired to help.

O’Bryan says, “People who may not be serving locally may serve internationally and come back and serve locally also, and we’ve found that’s a great impact.”

OneWorld Health invites anyone from the community to travel with them to volunteer at these hospitals in Uganda or Nicaragua, they say you don’t have to be a medical professional to get involved.

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