Medical NGOs can be small independent organizations or may be national or international organizations. Some medical non-governmental organizations focus on one type of medical issue, while others focus on broader health issues. In many cases, these organizations operate as medical advocacy groups, while others medical NGOs, such as hospitals, exist to provide healthcare to individuals.
Just like other non-governmental organizations, medical NGOs are formed to address a variety of needs. Some are localized not-for-profit organizations offering information on healthcare or referral information for health-related issues. Other medical non-governmental organizations may operate locally but may be a part of a national organization or even an international NGO. Regardless of how they are formed and what type of NGO they are, all medical non-governmental organizations share three things in common in that they do not operate for the sole purpose of making a profit, they are not a part of a larger government entity and they all have a medical focus.
Certain medical NGOs exist to focus on one particular type of issue, such as providing health screenings for children or providing corrective surgery to people born with physical abnormalities. Others may be formed to provide nutritional education and healthcare to individuals who have been affected by famine or poverty, in general. Each medical non-governmental organization defines its own purpose and mission statement, and seeks to fulfill a medically related need for or on behalf of the public.
Some medical NGOs may act alone or partner with other community-based or social organizations in an effort to raise public awareness about certain diseases and conditions. Many host fundraisers and campaign to raise funds to provide medically related educational services to local communities and schools. Medical NGOs like these are usually formed in an effort to stop or control health conditions that are causing a high rate of preventable illnesses or deaths in certain areas. Some medical NGOs provide all such services and more, including general healthcare. Hospitals and clinics are a good example of this latter type.
Though they have very distinct medical purposes, medical NGOs are still considered to be a part of the broader description of civil society organizations. This term does not necessarily refer to one specific type of NGO, but is commonly used to describe altruistic organizations, in general. As is the case with other NGOs, medical non-governmental organizations also, at times, receive operational funds from governments while still maintaining a separate status.