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Child Family Health International

Rating: 4.56 stars   112 reviews 22,523


995 Market St Ste 1104 San Francisco CA 94103 USA


Founded in 1992, Child Family Health International is a global family of committed professionals and students who work to strengthen communities at the grassroots level. We are united by a vision of advancing quality healthcare for all by creating global health education programs that are socially responsible and financially just. We are recognized by the United Nations.


-->Established in 1992 -->20+ sites in 7 countries (Argentina, Bolivia, Ecuador, India, Mexico, South Africa, Uganda) -->8,000+ volunteers have completed programs to date -->Supports & works with 250+ medical professionals around the world -->Donated over $10 million in medical supplies/equipment -->Offers professional development opportunities to global medical partners -->Academic Partners include UC Davis, Northwestern University, Northeastern University, etc. -->Awarded Special Consultative Status with the United Nations (ECOSOC) Economic and Social Council, July 2008

Target demographics:

Our students explore what health care and public health are like in developing countries while experiencing local culture and issues. Our program fees help support the local underserved communities where we work. We have enrolled 8,000+ students to date.

Direct beneficiaries per year:

700+ students and 250+ CFHI community partners (doctors and businesses, NGOs)

Geographic areas served:

Worldwide, with a focus on the US, Argentina, Bolivia, Ecuador, Mexico, South Africa, Uganda, and India.


GLOBAL HEALTH INTERNSHIPS : Experience global health through 4 to 16 week programs in Argentina, Bolivia, Ecuador, India, Mexico, Uganda & South Africa. Open to all with an interest in global health/medicine. INTERNATIONAL GRANTS: CFHI indirectly provides critical medical services to our partners abroad. Support CFHI's efforts in bringing village-based health care to underserved areas. HEALTH PROMOTER TRAINING: CFHI trains community-based health workers and teaches local members about preventive medicine and public health issues. Equipped with medicines and supplies physicians often see over 400 patients in a month.

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Reviews for Child Family Health International

Rating: 5 stars  

I attended CFHI's two week intensive Tropical Medicine and Community Health program in Puerto Escondido.

CFHI programs appealed to me because they are not for profit and based in partnership and exchange. Their motto, “Let the world change you,” is real and something that all of us in dominant cultures should do more. Being in Puerto with CFHI was a transformative experience. It was helped me to expand my view of community and global health, and see the ways in which our actions in the United States and modern medicine affect the rest of the world.

I was welcomed into the clinical settings and appreciated the ethical approach of CFHI surrounding international experiences in healthcare. Volunteering to "fix" problems in other countries from an ethnocentric position doesn't usually create sustainable change - and often is damaging to communities. I really appreciated how the medical director in Puerto was a public health doctor in the community. Our (excellent) language classes and homestay were through another local business - and very professional. My whole experience in Puerto felt like real service learning, and was built upon long-term sustainable relationships.

My time in Oaxaca was illuminating in that I could see how all different kinds of medicine can coexist. And I also found people that I could relate to, especially in terms of the paradigm shift we want to create. It’s not always easy to merge the old with the new. We need evidence-based practices in healthcare, but we also need the wisdom and knowledge of our ancestors – and we are losing this with each passing generation. We need to reconnect the mind and spirit to the body when we’re working with patients and we desperately need all forms of healing on all levels – from individual to community to global.

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Rating: 5 stars  

I went to Oaxaca, Mexico with CFHI for a month. This was my first time practicing medicine abroad and I appreciate how careful they were about making sure that I only did what I was qualified to do unlike other programs which sometimes let people do things way above their level. They were always available which made me feel safe at any point I was in Mexico. My home stay, clinics and hospitals I visited, and Spanish school were all set up and ready to go upon my arrival. I rotated through peds, surgery, internal med, L&D, ED... My medical director was extremely receptive of what I wanted out of my experience.

I got way more out of this experience than I could have possibly imagined. I previously shied away from short missions trips because I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to fully immerse myself in the culture and really get something out of it while giving back. This trip with CFHI was perfect because my role often fell at the same level as it would be in the US which made it easier to feel immersed into the environment. The only down side is that it was quite expensive, but CFHI did help cover half my funds with a scholarship which was easy to apply for.

A month was also the perfect amount of time to get to know plenty of people, learn medical knowledge in Spanish, and get to know the area well enough that I would feel comfortable visiting another time (which I can't wait to do). I absolutely recommend it to any other med (or nursing) students!

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Rating: 5 stars  

I just returned from an amazing month-long global health experience in Quito with Child Family Health International. I witnessed some great medicine, took Spanish classes, immersed myself in the culture through a homestay, adventured across Ecuador, and made many lifelong friends. I learned so much about both medicine and myself through this experience. While any country will have differences in policy and operations I was surprised at just how similar clinic in Quito was when compared to my experiences in the US. In a way, it was beautiful illustration of how universal the human condition is. No matter where you are from, what work you do, or how you identify, all humans face the same medical problems across the world. This is a simple and obvious truth that is surprisingly difficult to grasp until you experience it firsthand. From stomachaches and cough to cancer and dementia, humanity can’t escape illness and (hopefully) doctors will always be there to aid and heal those in need. I highly recommend CFHI to any medical student!

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Rating: 5 stars  

It’s been one week since I got home from my amazing trip to Argentina and there has not been a single day where I haven’t talked about the incredible experience I had. I enjoyed it so much that my only regret is not staying longer than two weeks. When I arrived in Cordoba for the Hospital Medicine program, I was greeted by Carlos (one of the local coordinators for CFHI) at the airport and he took me to my homestay. I got to stay with an incredibly kind woman whose daughter and two granddaughters lived in their own apartment not far from us so I really got to bond with all four of them. The other local CFHI coordinator, Charly, taught me how to get to the hospital using the local bus system and after that I was set to make the most of my two weeks.

All of the doctors, residents, and students in the hospital were so helpful and always took the time to explain what they were doing whether it was a basic physical exam, an EKG, or stitching up a wound. I got to spend every morning in the local emergency hospital and I learned so much it was amazing. As soon as I told people that I was a student from the United States, they would ask me lots of questions about California (where I’m from) and about the medical school process in the US compared to Argentina. Everyone was really friendly so I felt very comfortable right away. I loved getting up and going to the hospital every morning because I knew that in the four hours that I was there, I was going to learn so much. I really wish I had planned to stay for at least a month because two weeks was not nearly enough! I am so grateful that CFHI put together this amazing program and I definitely plan on participating in more CFHI programs in the future!!

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Rating: 5 stars  

I am forever changed by my Ugandan experience. Thank you CFHI for this amazing opportunity, and thank you KIHEFO for accepting me like family. This was truly a once in a lifetime adventure. CFHI provided me with an opportunity to be immersed in Ugandan culture. This is the way to experience global health! I was forced to put my own assumptions aside and learn to think about health from a different perspective. I left Uganda with a new sense of purpose and a renewed passion for global healthcare.

Uganda is a great country with even greater people. I will never forget the special people that I met. The KIHEFO staff was incredible and truly did everything possible to ensure that I enjoyed my stay. I am forever grateful for there amazing hospitality. This entire experience has changed my outlook on not only health but also on life. 

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Rating: 1 stars  

2 people found this review helpful

I regret not reviewing CFHI's Cape Town project beforehand as CFHI's reputation got the best of me. It is apt to say that the program is total rubbish. Here is some information that you are not told.

1) There is NO clinical rotation. CFHI's webpage advertises the opportunity to observe in general surgery, general medicine, pediatrics, HIV clinic, and casualty. The reality is that you are placed in Internal Medicine for the duration of the program. When I brought this fact up, one of the coordinators, Avril, got mad and replied word for word "Why can't you be open to the experience?"

2) The staff offers ZERO accommodation. It was extremely frustrating to work with Avril and Marion (coordinators of the program). It seems that their answers to any problems in the program are "Be open minded", "Don't let the small things get to you", and "You are already blessed to have this opportunity". The driver associated with the program is one of the grumpiest, least accommodating person that I've encountered. You are picked up at 6:30, because he doesn't want to sit in traffic. You arrive at 7, and you wait until 8 to begin observing.

3) The planning of the homestay is counter logic. All the volunteers are placed in a neighborhood called Vanguard Estate. It is in the region called Athlone. Two blocks down is a massive township called Langa. Think townships as one grade above slums. You can imagine that the neighborhood is not safe at all. Additionally, you are in a remote location where there is nothing fun to do. To head to the city where most attractions are, you have to either take Uber or drive. You can imagine the accumulated cost for that.

I speak from the bottom of my heart when I say that you should avoid this program. If you want to be placed in South Africa, choose Durban. It seems that project has more positive reviews, and I doubt it can be worse than Cape Town's project. Save yourself money and time.

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(Nonprofit Staff) wrote:

Thank you for sharing this feedback with us. We are sorry to hear that the program did not match your expectations. We take this type of feedback very seriously we welcome the opportunity to continue to improve. I would like to encourage you to contact us directly so that we may learn more about your concerns and address them directly. Thank you for again for your feedback and for bringing these important issues to our attention. Sincerely, Robin Young, Assistant Director- Africa and Asia, Child Family Health International. Email: robin@cfhi.org

Rating: 1 stars  

I have to be honest, I had a 'less than stellar experience' with CFHI. I am only writing this review to help others like me who are diligently researching programs like this and who want to get a firsthand review from someone who recently attended.

1) The program houses you in an area of Cape Town - 20-30 minutes from city center - in a neighborhood called Athlone. Ask anyone in Cape Town and they will tell you that, even for Cape Town, this is not a safe neighborhood. Feel free to look up crime statistics maps and you will see for yourself. 2) The driver that picks you up and drops you off is this older man who is unprofessional and grumpy. He gripes at you if you are even a minute late. Trust me, ask anyone who went about this.
3) Your home stay is a toss up. Unfortunately for me, my home stay left me to fend for myself for breakfast and lunch, while my other colleagues had their breakfast and lunch prepared each day for them.
4) I asked to be placed in a particular area of interest: HIV. This was never addressed, nor was I ever placed in an HIV clinic. I was put in an internal medicine inpatient ward of a hospital with about 10-15 other students, so there was next-to-no one-on-one teaching. You mainly walk around and observe.
5) When I addressed my concerns with the program administration in both Cape Town and their office in San Francisco, I was made to feel that my concerns were not valid. I found the staff to be unprofessional, apathetic, and unhelpful. The two ladies representing the program in Cape Town are nice and friendly, but they did little to address my concerns and feedback.
6) If you do not heed my advice and end up going on this, then at least spend the $400-$600 USD on renting a car. There is NOTHING to do in Athlone. No coffee shops or wifi, and your home stays generally do not have wifi. Do yourself the favor of renting a car.

So, to say I had a bad experience, is only the half of it. When you spend close to $3,000 on a program like CFHI, you expect a little more out of the experience. I was severely let down by the experience and the program's response to my experience.

Choose another program. Or, if you have the contacts, set up your own international rotation.

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(Nonprofit Staff) wrote:

Dear JJ R, thank you for sharing this feedback with us. We are sorry to hear that the program did not match your expectations. We welcome opportunities to improve- we've been running international education programs for 23 years and we strive to provide the highest quality experience to participants. We take this feedback very seriously and have taken immediate and concrete steps to address the areas of concern that you brought to our attention. We are grateful to you for sharing this feedback, and we were also glad to be able to connect with you to address the specifics of your situation. Please don't hesitate to contact me with any further questions or concerns. Sincerely, Robin Young, Assistant Director- Africa and Asia, Child Family Health International. Email: robin@cfhi.org

Rating: 5 stars  

1 person found this review helpful

I was awarded a scholarship with CFHI to go abroad to Durban, South Africa, to participate in the HIV & Healthcare program. To put it simply, this was one of the most incredible experiences of my life. I'm an MPH student studying global health and was considering pursuing medicine after graduation but was still undecided before starting the program. Not only did the program answer that question for me, but it gave me so much more. It was a truly life changing experience for me.

Though my time was relatively short, the program packs an immense load of clinical experience into just a few short weeks. It would have taken years and a much more advanced clinical background to be able to have these experiences in the U.S. and I think it would have taken a much longer time for me to make future career choices without this program. I am so grateful to have been given this opportunity! And I really think I will return to South Africa in particular to work eventually, since my interest is in HIV. In terms of infectious disease, this program is also great for providing exposure to clinical conditions that are much more rare in the U.S. such as HIV and TB.

Durban was also such an incredible city! I was able to make such meaningful friendships with the other students in the program as well as my host family, and even some of the health care providers during rotation. I could not have chosen a better place to do this program.

Overall, I had an amazing experience and would recommend anyone considering a career in health care, an interest in global health or global service, or interest in HIV/TB to apply for this program. It is a very hands-on experience that provides great clinical exposure, and in one of the coolest places in the world :)

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Rating: 5 stars  

2 people found this review helpful

CFHI is an amazing organization that does an excellent job melding a learning experience with assisting global communities. I've been a part of many nonprofit organizations and CFHI is by far one of the most organized and thought provoking. As a volunteer in both South Africa and India, I felt well immersed and blended into the local communities.

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Rating: 5 stars  

2 people found this review helpful

CFHI India went above and beyond to provide me an amazing public health experience in Delhi. I learned far more than I anticipated, and I'm excited to apply this knowledge to my future career as a public health physician.

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