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Support Local Healthcare Provision

Cusco, Peru show on map

Support the healthcare system in Peru by offering your medical skills at a public or a private clinic.

Since the mid 1990’s there has been a specific focus on improving the available healthcare provisions across the Peru. This is a direct result to the death of over 9,000 from a Cholera outbreak; it was a devastating hit to the population and opened the eyes of many government officials. Following this epidemic, the government invested millions of dollars to ensure that there were care providers and facilities available to all areas of the country. One of the most impacting developments to the Peruvian Healthcare System was the construction of 15 hospitals nationwide. The government hoped the direct result of this would be that patient care numbers would improve by 40%! Over time, the government has created different forms of government based assistance and insurance options to ensure that citizens are able to further improve the system and receive necessary care.

In Peru the health system is split between two sectors, private and public. Like much of the western world there is an insurance system that determines the level and quality of care provided to citizens; the insurance is split between the Seguro Integral de Salud (SIS) who have no health insurance and the Peruvian Ministry of Health and EsSalud (EsSalud), which is coverage through employment for working families.

While volunteering on the medical project you will learn about the two insurance systems. The clinical settings provide care to those from all coverages as they have an ultimate focus of caring for all Peruvian citizens. The SIS aims to protect those from the most vulnerable populations and cares for about 18% of these groups who come from mostly rural and urban areas where poverty is greatest. This coverage also provides assistance to pregnant women and men over the age of 17 that suffer from extreme poverty.

The EsSalud is the coverage of the employed and is much like the US system in the sense it is contributed to by employers. Roughly 20% of the population, including the working class, retirees and their families fall under this form of insurance. These forms of insurance are maintained by the Ministry of Health (MINSA), which also provides alternative health services for most of the remaining population whom do not fall into these categories.

In Cusco, much of the medical care is provided within hospitals throughout the city with the active coverage of these two forms of insurance. MINSA provides financial support in many of the clinical settings, due to this local citizens are seen by medical professionals regardless of their coverage. What is expressed by many Peruvians is that whether they have or do not have insurance from the national healthcare system they are forced to wait for extended periods to receive care because of the lacking resources, funding and medical professionals.

Due to this, many clinics are being managed locally or privately. The clinics will specialise in certain areas providing a faster process for general needs and appointment to specialists. This is where PMGY Peru medical volunteers can help immensely! In Clinics across Cusco citizens will line up as early as 5:00am to see a doctor or nurse and receive either direction to a specialist or be provided with general care. As a volunteer, you can assist in both community health programmes and clinical settings.

Your level of involvement at the project is dictated by medical experience, duration of programme, Spanish language skills and willingness to get involved. The medical staff are accountable for you whilst you’re under their supervision, so it is completely up to them if you are permitted and want to get involved in hands-on procedures. Whilst previous PMGY volunteers have been given the chance to administer IV injections, dress wounds etc, we can never guarantee or promote hands-on involvement for participants regardless of their medical experience or background.

Generally speaking those with little or no medical experience assume a largely observational role. If you are studying medically related degree, then you should have more opportunity to undertake some more basic hands-on involvement. However, to reiterate we can never guarantee or endorse hands-on experience should you choose to get hands-on, as the decision ultimately lies with the medical staff.

For our programmes in Latin America, we recommend that you speak basic to intermediate Spanish. While the programmes only require you to speak a basic level of Spanish, we find that the ability to speak a good level of Spanish will greatly enhance your overall experience. English is generally not widely spoken so if you do not speak a reasonable level of Spanish then you will find it difficult to communicate and thus may have a frustrating experience.

PMGY offer Online Spanish Lessons that you can take before your trip. These are priced at $225 for 20-hours and this provides you with the opportunity to receive one-on-one classes from a trained Spanish teacher. Classes are held via Skype and can be worked around your schedule back in your home country. We also offer a Language & Immersion Programme which you can take part in prior to your volunteer placement. This provides you with 20 hours-per-week of group Spanish lessons. Both of these options can be added during our online application process and are highly recommended if you want to make the most of your volunteer placement.

Once you are in-country then you are also able to organise additional Spanish lessons directly with our local team. Volunteer feedback suggests that it can often be tiring to complete Spanish lessons at the same time as your volunteer placement so we generally recommend the Language & Immersion Programme option.


For the majority of our programmes you can apply at any time. However, we advise that you apply as soon as possible to ensure we have availability on the programme – particularly if you’re looking to travel between June and August, as spaces can fill up very quickly during this period.

It is best that you apply sooner rather than later as some of our programmes only have a limited capacity and spaces get filled very quickly. However, you should always make sure you’re 100% committed to the programme before applying.

Can I use this programme as part of a university or college placement? 

It is certainly possible to use one of PMGY’s programmes as part of your university or college placement. Project staff can sign off any paperwork required by your course tutors. PMGY regularly receives medical, childcare, psychology and nursing placement students at our projects around the world and we have ties with some of the leading universities.

If you’re a course tutor and would like further information about how one of PMGY’s programmes could meet the placement requirements for your degree course then please contact us.

Is it safe to travel to PMGY destinations?

Although our volunteers work in the developing world, we always ensure our host locations are safe. Each programme has been extensively researched and has passed our strict vetting process. Our UK team undergo an extensive routine when establishing our in-country infrastructures and we continue to monitor our safety procedures on a regular basis. Furthermore, we monitor the stability of our volunteer destinations on a daily basis. Through our constant contact with consulates and embassies and our reports from our overseas teams, we are able to ensure that our volunteers are never placed in unstable regions.

The PMGY team have visited and participated in every programme we offer and verified them based on our own independent criteria. We carefully inspect every little detail of our set-up. From inspecting the living conditions, checking out the neighbourhoods you’ll be staying in, to tasting the food you’ll be eating – each and every programme we establish has gone through a lengthy and rigorous vetting process. Risk assessments have been written for all areas in which PMGY operate and our experienced local coordinators are always on-hand to manage any emergencies that may occur. Our UK team are always on the road reviewing our risk management procedures in the field and monitoring local conditions. 

In emergency situations we have the necessary protocols and equipment in place and we are able to evacuate our volunteers from potential dangers. Our local coordinators are trained to deal with emergency circumstances. 

All volunteers will receive a digital PMGY Volunteer Handbook once they have paid their deposit and confirmed their place on the programme. This Handbook contains literally everything you need to know – from what to pack, to how to obtain a visa, to local language guides. It is really important that you read through the Volunteer Handbook carefully once you’ve downloaded it. If you require any further information not covered in the Volunteer Handbook then our team are always on-hand to assist you.

Typical day

There a series of clinics that volunteers may be hosted in. We are happy to say that PMGY Medical volunteers are able to apply themselves in this clinic providing assistance to the nurses and doctors. This clinic offers free care for those that are unemployed in areas of general practice along with psychology, gynaecology, dentistry and laboratory. The clinic will care for 200+ patients on a daily basis.

This clinic will allow volunteers to observe and assist the doctors with general practices like taking vitals, sugar tests and documentation. Volunteers will report to the project from 8:00 am to 12:30 pm on weekdays in consultation, women’s health, minor surgery (stitches, wound dressing, etc), observation of medical staff, community projects and immunizations. If you are a long-term volunteer you can assist in the laboratory and ‘Nino Sano’ where the nurses record children’s weight, height and provide vaccinations. The clinic will proudly arrange community programmes if volunteers wish to donate and participate in health campaigns while on the project.

This clinic is a private care provider. The clinic is made up of different health services including inpatient care, home support, air-medical transportation, critical hyperbaric treatment, trauma and medical home care. The majority of patients will be travellers who suffer from illness such as altitude sickness, motor-vehicle accidents, tropical-disease, dehydration, minor surgery and dental care.

Volunteers will join this clinic Monday to Friday from 7:30 am to 12:00 pm and in the afternoons from 4:40 pm to 8:30 pm depending on your interest and schedule. Activities during your volunteer hours will include assisting the doctor or nurse with care, laboratory analysis and if you speak an intermediate level of Spanish, translating to patients. All medical staff will speak a good level of English and provide volunteers with a great opportunity to learn in a variety of settings. In the private clinic, volunteers with a basic to intermediate level of Spanish can join the ambulance (based on availability) to transport patients back to the hospital. Please note that during the low season, December to March, the hospital will host a lower number of patients.

The children’s clinic is a private centre that offers various services for children of low-income families. The clinic specializes in rehabilitation for disabled children by means of physiotherapy and provides long-term shelter for neglected and handicapped children. The clinic will provide volunteers opportunities to join in areas including trauma, rehabilitation, psychology and neurology. Patients will suffer from a physical handicap, down syndrome, autism or other minor mental illness.

Volunteers will join this project from 8:30 am to 2:00 pm and assist/observe with tasks including physiotherapy, clinical care, ultrasound, hydrotherapy and consolation. The level of experience you receive on this project will be determined by your level of education, interaction with staff and Spanish.

This project is based at a special needs school. The primary school is one of four special education institutions located in Cusco. This project will provide children with mental and/or motor delay the opportunity to receive physiotherapy and assistance. The children will be ages 3 to 20 with the highest mental knowledge of 6th grade students (13 years).

Volunteers on this project will mostly interact with older children assisting in occupational workshops. The skills will provide the children with the ability to provide for themselves or assist with income for the family. There is only one physiotherapist in the school assisting 10-15 children a day. This project will require volunteers to be present from 8:00 am to 2:00 pm giving therapy to the children and assisting teachers with children that need one-on-one assistance.

Details on Arrival

This programme starts on the 1st and 3rd Sunday every month. You should arrive into Alejandro Velasco Astete International Airport in Cusco (airport code CUZ) on the selected Sunday start date. You will be met at the airport by your host family or a local team member who will be holding a named sign. They will take you to your accommodation where you will spend the rest of your day at leisure. If you wish to venture around the Cusco area you can request this from your homestay family.
The programme ends on the Saturday of your final week and you should depart the accommodation on this day.

Free-time activities

PMGY volunteer in Peru participants are based in Cusco, the Incan capital of world located in the Andes Mountains. The small city has so much history!  As you move through the narrow streets you can’t help but wander into the hidden markets, gaze upon the local artwork and chuckle at the llamas dressed in traditional material.

Peru is full of wonder with the Incan capital, Machu Picchu, the Sacred Valley, Rainbow Mountain, the Amazon and the Nazca lines along with coast. Here you can find yourself in a prime spot to visit places like Rainbow Mountain, Machu Picchu, the Maras Salt Mines, Sacred Site of the Moray, Lake Titicaca and the Sacred Valley of the Incas.

Our participants are situated in a great location to explore the local sites and also travel further afield.
Water Sports

Program Requirements

In order to join the program you need to be at least 17 years old on the program start date.
Language Skills
You need to speak Spanish (intermediate level)
Health Declaration
Criminal Background Check
Education Requirements
Medical at High School/University level
Nationality Restrictions
No restrictions. Helping hands from all over the world are welcome.
Other Skills
We welcome volunteers of all backgrounds, nationalities and religions. You should be physically fit, as volunteering overseas can be quite strenuous. If you have any medical/mental health conditions that may affect your participation overseas then these must be declared to us during your online application.
Time Commitment
Your helping hand will be required on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday

Suitable for


Included Services

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Our services are free of charge!
All program fees are charged directly by Plan My Gap Year.

Before your journey

Profound consulting and ongoing support (free)
Plan My Gap Year (your host organization) provides consulting and is keen to answer all your questions. Once you reserved your spot, you will receive the contact details of your volunteer project.
Online preparation course (optional, from $49)
Prepare yourself and become a confident and well informed traveler. Global Travel Academy takes you on a journey before you leave home, helping you to become one of the world's greatest travelers. Our trusted partner for online learning offers courses in "International Volunteering", "Travel Health & Safety" and "Travel Safety Abroad".

On-site services

Services by Plan My Gap Year
Your fee includes both your registration fee and programme fees.

Your programme fee includes; accommodation, all meals (breakfast, lunch & dinner), airport pickup (24 hours), in-country orientation, private transport to projects, 24 hour in-country support.

Your registration fee includes; 24 hour UK based support, comprehensive volunteer handbook, live pre-departure webinars, 100% financial protection, regular programme inspection.
Airport Pickup at Alejandro Velasco Astete International Airport

We provide a 24 hour Airport Pickup.

During your time with PMGY in Peru you will live in our homestay(s). The accommodation is basic but comfortable. You’ll be living with other volunteers from around the world, so you’ll make plenty of friends along the way as well as local families whom will guide you in Cusco and help to improve your knowledge of the Spanish Language!

The homestays are located just outside of central Cusco all within 30 minutes walk of your chosen project. Each room has single beds, up to 3 people per room (same-sex rooms only). Volunteers are provided with bed linen and cupboard space to store clothes and accessories. All volunteers will have their own keys for the front of the building, apartment and their bedroom.

Bathrooms are shared. Each bathroom has a shower and western style toilet. The water is hot to ensure you keep warm in the chilly city of Cusco! The house has Wi-Fi and a communal area for volunteers to hang out. There is also a kitchen with a refrigerator to store any items you need to keep chilled, but the families will prepare all meals (including a packed lunch if you wish).

The families of the homestay normally have a separate area within the house for their family, but they love to interact with volunteers and hear about your days. This ensures you have round the clock support and security along with the chance to improve your Spanish language skills.
Dorm Room Guest Family
Food & Beverages
Volunteers will be provided with breakfast, lunch and dinner every day during their time with PMGY. Breakfast and dinner are served at the homestay, whereas for lunch we provide you with a packed lunch (upon request). Boiled and filtered water is also available at the homestay(s) for volunteers.

Most meals are traditional Peruvian dishes. Peruvian cuisine consists of a lot of rice or quinoa and the meat is mainly chicken. Most meals will incorporate lots of carbs and vegetables compared to the UK so please be open-minded around this! Due to the altitude, you will notice that your breakfast and dinner meals are quite small and lunch is very big. Going to sleep with a full stomach is hard on the body and at such an altitude it is difficult to digest large quantities of food. It may take you a few days for your body to accustom to this as well.

The main meats are chicken, fish and alpaca. There are a number of western restaurants around a 10-minute drive from the accommodation should you fancy picking up some home comforts. There are also some Vegan and Indian restaurants in Cusco. Our local team will tell you all about the options available to you during your in-country orientation.

Our team will do their best to cater for any dietary requirements but there may be instances where you may need to purchase alternative ingredients at your own expense.
Internet Access
Good access at the project site
What's NOT included?
Visa, flights, travel insurance or vaccinations are NOT included in the program fees.
Flight Tickets
The nearest airport is Alejandro Velasco Astete International Airport (CUZ) in Cuzco. We assist you to find cheap flights to Peru.
Travel Insurance
Going abroad is an adventure and it is always best to be prepared. Sudden illness or injury, cancellation or theft - a travel insurance for Peru provides security and is a plus to have.
If you are intending to volunteer in Peru you should seek medical advice before starting your social journey. Check your required vaccinations for Peru.
Costs (Prices in USD)
2 weeks (min. stay)
3 weeks
4 weeks
6 weeks
8 weeks
10 weeks
12 weeks (max. stay)
Average fees

You can volunteer at the project site in Cusco/Peru between 2 weeks and 12 weeks. Please note that the above shown program fees are estimated and subject to exchange rate fluctuations. Plan My Gap Year will let you know about the final price during your application process.
Crowdfunding Service
Generally, volunteering abroad involves certain costs. In case you need financial support, we will assist you to fundraise your volunteer program in Peru.
Deposit (15%)
The deposit is simply to reserve your volunteer placement. Payments are handled by PayPal, our trusted global payment provider. If you don't have a PayPal account, you can also pay using a credit card.
Final Payment (85%)
Your final payment will be agreed with Plan My Gap Year during the application process. Common solutions are either via bank transfer or a cash payment at the project site.

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