International (MNN) — The debate over socialized medicine is widespread, but few can argue that in this specific situation, it's doing a lot of good.
In Sweden, the universal healthcare system requires hospitals to be up-to-date with their equipment. "Every three years they have to change all their equipment. So what they normally do is just to throw it away," says Lars Dunberg with Global Action.
Unwilling to see the equipment go to waste, and recognizing the need for such equipment worldwide, Global Action has been able to step in.
"We are working with an organization that is picking it all up. Some of the equipment is not even out of the original box because they have to have reserve equipment and so forth," explains Dunberg. "So we have hospital beds, wheelchairs, operating tables, x-ray machines, dialysis machines."
The organization gives Global Action as much of this equipment as the ministry can manage to send to hospitals with very little elsewhere across the globe. All they have to supply is transportation.
"In the last few years, we have shipped about three 40-foot containers every month to somewhere around the world to a mission hospital, or to a hospital destroyed by the tsunami in Sri Lanka or [destroyed] by civil war, and just replaced their medical equipment," says Dunberg.
The used–and sometimes even brand-new–medical equipment from Sweden has transformed hospitals and regions, thanks to Global Action. After the Great Tsunami of 2004, Global Action was able to totally rebuild four hospitals in Sri Lanka. They sent two full containers of equipment to Haiti post-quake, and now have provided Ukraine with the country's first-ever dialysis machine. The ministry has provided schools with computer labs, replaced the ancient equipment of former Soviet Union countries with new apparatuses, and paved the way for conversations about Christ.
Global Action's generosity is an incredible gateway to discuss the Gospel. Dunberg says they provided a few churches with containers in Ukraine. The churches handed the medical supplies over to the local government. Although they had previously been struggling to even meet peacefully, they were suddenly able to do whatever they liked to share the Gospel since they had assisted the government in such a significant way.
Hospital equipment is a coveted provision in many regions. Dunberg says most hospitals beds in Africa are occupied by an average of three people each. When Global Action is able to provide them with the beds that they need to be more sanitary and effective, hospital personnel want to know more about what prompts Global Action to help them. Doors for Christ swing open.
Not only is the ministry able to help cure people spiritually and physically through this partnership, but they are also able to accomplish it at an incredibly cost-effective rate. Without any overhead for the equipment, Global Action is just responsible for shipping.
"Generally, a container contains about $250,000 to $300,000 worth of equipment. We have to spend about $11,000 to $14,000-$15,000 per container, depending where it goes for freight and for all the paper work to get it into the country and so forth," explains Dunberg. "It basically means that for every dollar we spend in transportation, we get $15 of equipment on the location."
At this rate, costs boil down to about $70 to send a wheelchair and about $211 to send a hospital bed. If you want to help transform a community with a hospital, and subsequently the life changing Gospel message of Jesus Christ, click here.