Global Links

Global Links is a Pittsburgh-based medical relief and development organization dedicated to promoting environmental stewardship and improving health in resource-poor communities, primarily in Latin America and the Caribbean. Our two-fold mission provides hospitals in our region with a socially and environmentally beneficial alternative to sending hundreds of tons of still-useful surplus materials to landfills.

Hospitals and clinics in under-served communities often lack the supplies and equipment necessary to provide even basic care to their patients, resulting in needless suffering and deaths. At the same time, the US healthcare industry generates a staggering amount of medical surplus which, without intervention, is destined to pile up in our landfills.

Global Links’ innovative model of recovery and reuse connects these two social problems in a way that helps to solve both, creating a “virtuous circle” that converts an environmental burden to a life-saving purpose. Visit our website for more information.


Global Links was founded in 1989 by three women who had worked together in the mid-1980s and had each traveled extensively in the developing world. Having seen firsthand severe shortages of even basic healthcare services in many communities in these countries, they created a not-for-profit organization to recover usable medical materials and provide them to health facilities in need around the world. The trio soon decided to center the majority of Global Links’ U.S. collection efforts on developing relationships with hospitals rather than manufacturers. Because U.S. medical manufacturers are solicited heavily by many international aid organizations, merely adding another organization only reapportions the existing supply of available goods. Alternatively, U.S. hospitals provide a relatively untapped source of materials that otherwise would be put into landfills. Redirecting these materials benefits healthcare facilities in need as well as the environment.

A growing relationship with the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization and a desire to concentrate Global Links’ focus led the board and founders to direct large-scale efforts to Latin America and the Caribbean. Working in a structured, programmatic way in a finite number of countries allows Global Links to profoundly and permanently improve access to healthcare in the communities in which we work. The suture donation program remains worldwide.

As the organization grew, Global Links formed strategic collaborations with the Ministries of Health in the countries where we work to share expertise and further improve health.

In 1999, one of the three founding members, Kathleen Hower, assumed the Chief Executive Officer position and continues to lead the organization.

Where We Work

Global Links currently works in nine of the poorest countries in Latin America and the Caribbean.  Collaborating with the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization and the Ministries of Health in each country ensures that Global Links projects will make a lasting improvement in each country’s healthcare infrastructure.

Click here to see an interactive map on our website.