Queen’s Health Outreach (QHO), formerly known as Queen’s Medical Outreach (QMO), was formed in 1987 by 13 first year medical students. These students searched for global opportunities to initiate primary health care programs and successfully lined up an opportunity to begin working in Guyana, with the help of the Pan American Health Organization. In 1989, the first QMO project was initiated by 11 medical students, and they worked in the Guyanese communities of Charity and Bartica for three summer months. The focus of these initiatives was to conduct epidemiological studies on relevant health topics in Guyana, such as water-borne diseases, HIV/AIDS and rehabilitation, while also educating the public on other relevant health topics. Overall, two thirds of QMO’s work focused on maternal/child health, diabetes and infectious diseases through teaching and implementing research clinics, while the remaining one third focused on assisting Guyanese professionals in local health care clinics. Each summer the organization’s work was localized in different regions of Guyana, such as Anna Regina, Charity, Bartica, New Amsterdam and Georgetown. Finally, QMO created a program called “To Canada” where a fourth year Guyanese medical student was brought to Kingston to complete a one-month clinical rotation at Hotel Dieu Hospital to gain relevant experience.
In 1995, QMO shifted from clinical work to teaching, as they believed an emphasis on education would improve the organization’s long-term sustainability. QMO began to expand their initiatives to other countries worldwide. This included communities in Kingston ON, several in Northern Canada, Belize and Kenya, all of which continue today except for the latter.
As QMO expanded, it opened its doors to other Queen’s University faculties as well as undergraduate students. In 2006, the organization’s name was changed to Queen’s Health Outreach, to better reflect the organization’s mission and the work that was being accomplished. Today, QHO’s mission is to collaborate with these partnering global communities to work towards sustainable opportunities for youth engagement and leadership, by facilitating peer-to-peer discussions centering around health topics in classrooms.