Health Volunteers Overseas
HVO is a network of health care professionals, organizations, corporations and donors united in a common commitment to improving global health through education.
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Personal Safety

The safety of our volunteers is a top priority at Health Volunteers Overseas (HVO). During the orientation process, we provide volunteers with information and recommendations they need to stay safe and healthy. Nonetheless, health and safety risks are an inherent part of international volunteer service. HVO volunteers can reduce these risks by following recommendations for locally appropriate behavior, exercising sound judgment and abiding by HVO policies and procedures.

Security at Sites

Prior to starting a program in a country, HVO undertakes a complete assessment of the health and safety conditions of the country. In selecting sites, we carefully consider the suitability of housing options, the availability of communications and the local security situation. HVO routinely monitors activities at program sites and regularly receives updates from the Department of State.

On occasion, HVO may have a program in a country for which the Department of State has issued a Travel Warning. Volunteers for these programs will be subject to additional requirements established by HVO in order to qualify for service at that site. The requirements may include, but will not necessarily be limited to, prior HVO experience; relevant international experience; proof of purchase of medical evacuation insurance, and site specific criteria.

If HVO has an active program in a country that the Department of State decides is unsafe for Americans to travel to (in other words, they issue a Travel Warning), HVO reserves the right to suspend the program and volunteers on the schedule may be asked to change their assignment to another site.

The Department of State also issues Public Announcements. HVO monitors these regularly to determine if there is reason to modify placement of volunteers at a site but most often the programs continue. For more information about Travel Warnings and Public Announcements, visit the Department of State web site at

For more information on personal safety, read HVO's A Guide to Volunteering Overseas - this is included in the orientation materials provided to all volunteers.

All volunteers are strongly encouraged to register with the US Embassy upon arrival in-country if they have not already registered with the Department of State prior to their departure. For information on registering, visit the Department of State web at


Volunteering internationally is an enriching experience - it offers challenges and opportunities in abundance. Our goal at HVO is to make your volunteer experience a safe and healthy one that you will remember and treasure for years to come.

June 2013