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The three women who founded Global Links in 1989 made three critical decisions: to focus on recovery of surplus from hospitals, rather than medical manufacturers’ surplus; to establish long-term programs in targeted countries in this hemisphere, in order to have a sustained impact on healthcare; and to rely on volunteers to accomplish most of the labor-intensive sorting, preparation and packing of the recovered materials.
These principles, which set the organization apart from others with a similar mission, still characterize Global Links. Focusing on countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, Global Links has, over nearly 25 years, developed a unique and productive partnership with the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO), as well as with in-country Ministries of Health and the medical and administrative leadership of public health systems. This regional focus has allowed the organization to acquire in-depth knowledge about the public health conditions in the countries it serves, form collaborative partnerships, and develop valuable cultural competence. As the former Director of PAHO, Dr. Mirta Roses, wrote, “we consider Global Links to be an important partner and ally in our strategic planning efforts in the region.”
Global Links has a worldwide impact through our Suture Donation and our Medical Service Trip programs. Global Links collects surplus sterile sutures from hospitals across the US and provides appropriate types and sizes to resource-poor hospitals around the world. Without sutures - the material used for stitches - surgery is impossible, yet in many resource-poor communities, sutures are unavailable or prohibitively expensive. By sending this one item, Global Links is able to greatly enhance the care a hospital can provide its patients. The medical service trips we support enable residents of Western Pennsylvania to improve health conditions in communities throughout the world.
In recent years, Global Links has developed partnerships with organizations in the Pittsburgh region that serve resource-poor communities. From basic first-aid and hygiene supplies for homeless people, to mobility devices for western Pennsylvania residents, Global Links is improving life and health in our community.
In 1999, one of the three founding members, Kathleen Hower, became Chief Executive Officer and continues to lead the organization.
In 2013, the organization consolidated warehouse, volunteer and administrative operations in a new headquarters to better accommodate our work with healthcare institutions throughout the mid-Atlantic region.