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trying to remember about volunteer service to take medical supplies

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May 24th, 2005, 03:15 PM
  #1
nkh
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trying to remember about volunteer service to take medical supplies

Friends of ours are going to Tanzania in August (and we don't fit in their luggage.... ) and we were discussing things for them to take etc. I vaguely remember that there is a volunteer group that sends expired pharmaceutical supplies to African countries with travellers as volunteer couriers - that they will give you the package and arrange someone to meet you at the airport and collect it. Does anyone have any information about this organization? Did I just imagine it's existence? We live in Toronto, Ontario - would it be possible for our friends to be involved in this if they decide to?

Thanks very much for the continuing good advice of those on this board.

nkh
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May 25th, 2005, 04:45 AM
  #2
sandi
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nkh -

I would have your friend check through their tour operator which organization/s accepts these items - then coordinate direct with said organization. You might have to get special documents to transport these items and/or if they wish to send a carton on ahead of time.

It wouldn't be a good idea to get caught up at the airport, with inspectors inquiring about the contents; especially with expired dates on some of these. We know that many expired drugs are good for sometime after, but the last place to get into a heated conversation with a Security Agent is while they're doing their job and you're friends are trying to do a good deed.

Have them work through a reliable in-country agency - such as a hospital, camp, lodge - many support local communities. If your friends cannot get this organized prior to their trip, they can, hopefully, find resources once in-country and learn the process and documentation needed to send once they've arrived back in Toronto.
 
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May 25th, 2005, 03:40 PM
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A good resource for that type of information is the AMREF which runs Flying Doctor's services throughout Africa

http://www.amref.org
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May 25th, 2005, 04:45 PM
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nkh:

I would like to ditto what Sandi said.

I normally carry my medication bag in my backpack which I carry aboard the planes. However, two trips ago at the end of my safari I inadvertently threw the Ziploc bag into my checked luggage.

What a time they gave me at JKIA airport in Nairobi! They spotted the bag with the pills on X-ray and asked if I had pills in my luggage. I said yes. Then, with about 50 people waiting behind me to have their bags xrayed, they made me open a stuffed duffel and bring out the Ziploc bag. Then they wanted to know if I was sick and why I was bringing medications with me. It took some time to explain that most travelers bring things like Imodium, Cipro, an antimalarial, antibiotics and Bandaids, etc. with them just in case they needed it. They looked upon this old 65 year old as though I were an addict, and I normally don't take medications of any kind!!

Thus I would suggest that unless you know in advance that there will be someone there to meet you who has gotten prior permission to do this, I wouldn't even chance it.

Jan
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May 25th, 2005, 04:58 PM
  #5
nkh
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Thanks for replies!

I strongly agree Sandi and Jan that showing up with a random box of pharmaceuticals, some of them with expired dates, with no-one to collect is a potential nightmare. Therefore when my friends expressed interest in this type of activity I wanted to make sure there were provisions in place for them to NOT end up in the type of situation you faced, Jan (not fun.....).

This is why I was trying to remember the organization that was talked about - as I recall it was an official charity organization that supplies paperwork etc and actually registers with customs that you are coming with the package on that day - they are just saving international shipping charges (at least this is what I remember from the time....). Of course, it is entirely possible that while it did operate in the past it did run into problems with increased security and no longer carries out the service it used to.

If I find anything convincing and reputable, I will ask back with more specific info about the company to see if anyone has experiences with it.

Thanks again

nkh
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May 25th, 2005, 09:21 PM
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Just an off-the-top-of-my-head suggestion. Try emailing "doctors without borders" or "usaid" & see if they know anythihg about this.
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