There is exciting and timely news for students looking to make a direct impact in the world. Each year, the Clinton Global Initiative's CGI U sponsors a competitive grant program called the Outstanding Commitment Awards.  These grants are given to students who submit proposals for "Commitments to Action" that are aimed at improving communities and lives in their communities and across the globe.  The grant awards range from $1,000 - $10,000 and applications are open to all currently-enrolled students, both undergraduate and graduate. The applications should be focused on one of CGI U's five global challenge areas: Education, Environment & Climate Change, Peace & Human Rights, Poverty Alleviation, and Public Health, and are awarded to student-led groups focused on these areas.
This is a fantastic opportunity for students to take action in making a difference across the globe, and helping turn their ideas into reality. Time is running out however.  The final deadline has been extended to April 30, 2010, so there are only a coupe days left for you to submit your applications.
I encourage students in Tennessee and across the gobe to take advantage of this funding opportunity by submitting an application before the deadline.  For more information about this exciting project, please visit
The CGI U Outstanding Commitment Awards were launched in 2008 to provide financial support to innovative, student-driven initiatives. To see a map of previous award winners and their winning projects, please click here.

PeytonHoge001Yesterday, I had the chance to visit John F. Kennedy Middle School in Antioch, TN to meet with some incredibly talented students who worked hard to raise $1,000 for Haiti relief efforts. The work they did to raise money for such a worthy cause was inspiring, and I left with a renewed and continued sense of optimism about the future leaders we have in Tennessee.

It all started in the Science Club at the school. Reading the news of the devastating earthquake in Haiti, the students wanted to act and do something to help those in need. Several of the students including Tristan Higginbotham, Quai Gordon and Destiny Vaughan, encouraged by their teacher Betty Martin, stood outside the cafeteria at lunch, collecting change and donations to help lend a hand to those in need in Haiti. The seventh and eighth grade Science Club students worked for weeks and weeks collecting money, and reached their goal of collecting $1,000.

After collecting such an amazing sum, the students wanted to find the best place to send the money, hoping to make the biggest difference. After looking at the Red Cross and other organizations, they saw that my global health organization, Hope Through Healing Hands was using 100% of donations for on the ground relief efforts and decided to send the money to Hope Through Healing Hands. With their donation, we will put it to good use, directly helping relief efforts in Haiti.

I am so proud of these students and their hard work. I especially enjoyed getting to meet with them yesterday and talk about topics such as healthy habits, the importance of clean water in developing areas and what in particular the students are learning in their science classes. I encouraged them to continue to work and study hard (and I may have also given a special push for them to consider becoming a doctor).

I would like to thank in particular Betty Martin, their science teacher and Science Club director, Dr. Sam Braden, the principal, and the entire faculty at John F. Kennedy Middle School. We had a great visit, and I am confident that their hard work is making an incredibly positive impact on the students in their school. Middle Tennessee has a lot to be proud of thanks to the leadership of these three girls and all of John F. Kennedy Middle School.

Experiences on the Maternity Ward

I was initially blown away at the number of delivery rooms when first arriving on the labor and delivery ward at University Teaching Hospital (UTH). There were no less than 20 beds for mothers who were in labor or those who were pregnant and very ill. The monitors, such as those used to assess fetal heart rates found in most U.S. hospitals, were absent. As were bedside sitting areas for patient's family and friends, likely as a result of limited space.

Five to seven midwives provide ongoing care to each patient. Their responsibilities include monitoring the progress of labor, delivering the neonate, and immediate resuscitation of any newborn in distress. Resident physicians decide who is admitted to the ward and also monitor the progress of each patient. I mostly assist with the admission process. Many of the patients are referred from clinics within the community that are unable to adequately care for severe cases. A small number come directly from home with symptoms of labor; occasionally they have given birth at home with a family member or friend providing assistance.

There is a constant flow of patients to be assessed and cared for, at times leaving staff overburdened. In a 24 hour period 60 deliveries were completed and others were either sent home with a diagnosis of false labor or admitted to a different ward for medical therapy. An average 10 operations, including cesarean sections and removal of ectopic pregnancies, are performed by the senior resident physicians in this same time period. The operating theater is continuously in use throughout the night.

A number of the women are HIV positive and receiving appropriate therapy. The primary diagnoses I've witnessed excluding normal labor include preeclampsia and cephalopelvic disproportion (the maternal pelvis is inadequate to deliver the fetus). These patients receive the standard of care and leave the hospital in good condition.

I am very impressed with the outcome of care on the maternity wards at UTH despite the lack of expensive equipment. The Zambian women are incredibly strong and very cooperative. I'm looking forward to my next few weeks here where I will be spending time in gynecology and visiting a rural clinic.


Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania

            In Dar es Salaam, March signifies the end of Tanzania's summer which starts somewhere around December. During the summer, the sun is already unbearable by 7 a.m. and the ridiculous humidity means you'll be drenched in sweat before you can even make it from home to the office.

            In addition to relief from the scorching heat, the end of summer also brings with it rain-buckets and buckets of rain. It rains almost every morning from about 6:00 am to 8:00- just in time for the morning commute. Heavy downpours come out of nowhere in the middle of the night with thunder loud enough to wake a person from a sound sleep and wind gusts strong enough to blast curtains open. The rain also seems to enjoy marathon sessions on Saturday afternoons, complete with menacing skies and enough water to keep all but the most determined inside.

            In the city the rain complicates morning commutes, forms huge puddles in the dips and valleys of bad roads and turns unpaved stretches of road into huge mud holes barely fit for travelling by foot. In parts of the city where the open drainage system has been blocked by haphazard construction of homes or shops or masses of trash and leaves that accumulated throughout the dry season redirected water often floods homes and business leaving citizens to grab a bucket and bail out the water as best they can.

            Upcountry things are much worse. Flashfloods carry away livestock, as well as elderly people and children. Puddles as big as lakes spring up and children must balance books atop their heads, remove their shoes, hitch up skirts and uniform pants and wade through knee-deep water to make their way to school. In places where the landscape forms fast flowing channels of water children simply stay home for days at a time until the water recedes enough to cross carefully.

            Like the weather, a lot of things have changed in the office. The last few months have been strongly geared towards proposal writing so a lot of time is spent researching, accessing the efficacy of existing systems and brainstorming ways that these systems can be improved.  Since February, I've provided support on two major proposals and we're currently in the process of writing another one. Also, we're wrapping up one of our biggest programs in June so I anticipate at least one visit to our field office in Dodoma to provide support on things such as end of project reporting and documenting best practices. Although it's tough to imagine wrapping things up here, it seems very appropriate that the end of my fellowship will coincide with the end of a major project.

March 23, 2010

by Jenny Dyer

Last night, Senator Bill Frist was honored by the T.J. Martell Foundation with the Lifetime Medical Achievement Award. Big Kenny Alphin of Nashville and Ross Perot Jr. of Dallas, TX presented the award citing Dr. Frist's contributions to medical science, the field of transplantation, and global health for the past 35 years.

The T. J. Martell Foundation , founded in 1975, raises funds for innovative cancer and AIDS research. Over $500,000 was raised at the event, with proceeds directed to the Frances Preston Center at the Vanderbilt Ingram Cancer Center. Frist was accompanied by his wife Karyn, and brother Tommy and his wife Trisha.

March 19, 2010

by Bill Frist, M.D.

Former Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton will visit Haiti together on Monday, March 22, 2010.  It will be their first joint visit to the area.  They will be traveling with several of the board members of the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund, which to date has raised over $31 million from over 200,000 contributions for relief and recovery efforts.

The Chicago Tribune's Washington Bureau reported on this yesterday.  The Clinton Foundation announced, "Presidents Clinton and Bush will meet with Haitians, the Government of Haiti, and others providing assistance to earthquake survivors, with the goal of further establishing long-term recovery and rebuilding efforts."

I am very glad to work with the talented team at the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund, and I am honored to serve on the board of that organization - one that can provide so much help and healing to a country that is still suffering daily from the deadly January earthquake.

For more information about the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund, visit their website by clicking here.   For more information about the work Hope Through Healing Hands is doing in Haiti, you can visit our Beneficiaries page.

March 18, 2010

by Bill Frist, M.D.

CSIS Releases Report on Smart Global Health Policy

I have served on the Board of Trustees at the Center for Strategic and International Studies since 2007.  The work they are doing has continued to live up to its mission, which is "finding ways for America to sustain its prominence and prosperity as a force for good in the world."  Earlier today, CSIS issued a report from their Commission on Smart Global Health Policy, and I think it is well worth the read if you are interested in the issue of Global Health. 

The report, entitled "A Healthier, Safer, and More Prosperous World," is the result of nearly a year's worth of work, which looked in detail at the long-term U.S. strategic approach to global health. 

The Commission on Smart Global Health Policy included public servants,  top leaders in business and finance, and some of the leading minds in philanthropy and non-profit work. Together we worked hard to reach a consensus for a long-term plan for the United States to address global health issues and potentially save millions of lives around the world.

In short, the conclusion of the report is, "[t]he United States can better the lives of the world's citizens and advance its own interests by investing strategically in global health-even at a time of global economic recession and exceptional domestic challenges."

I encourage everyone interested in global health to take a look at this report and let me know your thoughts.  Working together, we can really have an impact on millions of lives.

To read the report, please click here.

March 5, 2010

by Bill Frist, M.D.

The Leading Child Killers No One Is Talking About

Which two diseases kill the most children worldwide? If you guessed AIDS, malaria, or measles, you're wrong.  Pneumonia and diarrhea claim the lives of more children under age 5 than those three diseases combined and account for over 30% of child deaths worldwide.

Pneumonia and diarrhea kill more children than any other disease - yet most people are unaware that this common illness has such a profound impact on the world's children.  Every day, 10,000 children die from pneumonia and diarrhea despite the fact that affordable prevention and treatment options exist. For millions of children around the world, these diseases could be prevented with vaccines and medicines that cost less than $10.

The real tragedy is that we have the tools to prevent most of these deaths but lack the political will to make their use a priority.  That's why Save the Children and GAVI have teamed up to continue raising the visibility of the biggest killers of children.

If the U.S. Government were to lead a global campaign to get pneumonia and diarrhea treatment to children living in just six countries - India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Nigeria, Ethiopia and the Democratic Republic of Congo - we would see the single biggest reduction in child mortality of our lifetime - and we would be that much closer to achieving Millennium Development Goal 4 - to reduce child mortality by 2/3 by 2015.

You can help fight the leading killers of children and make a real difference in the lives of children around the world - here is how:

  • Vote for Save the Children and Gavi's life-saving idea:

     Fight the Leading Killers of Children - Urge U.S. to Invest in Child Health

Two-month-old Damon is one example of how basic health services can save children's lives.  Damon lives in a small impoverished village in Malawi, nine miles away from the nearest health facility. When Damon was 5 days old, he suddenly stopped breastfeeding and started crying.  He was weak, had a high fever, a fast pulse and short breaths. Fortunately, his mother Zione, did not have to carry Damon miles to get medical care, because a trained community health worker was right there in her community to evaluate the little boy's condition and provide antibiotics. Prompt attention from this health worker, who then referred the baby to a hospital, very likely saved Damon from a tragic death.

Show your support for the world's children and vote for US leadership against the leading killers of children. Vote today and help ensure this issue is presented to the Obama Administration and's one million supporters. Help children who cannot vote for themselves.


BGA Donates over $1800 to HTHH Haiti Disaster Relief Fund

by Jenny Dyer, Ph.D.

Battleground Academy's Middle School, Grades 5-8, collected over $1,800 from their students as a fundraiser for Haiti Relief efforts. The students gave a minimum donation of $5 for the privilege of wearing blue jeans to school (in exchange for their typical uniform attire).

Jonathan Reiss and Harris Jones, seventh graders at BGA Middle School seen in the photo above, presented the check this week to Senator Frist.

Sen. Frist told the young men that this money would be used for tetanus vaccines (via Mobile Medical Disaster Relief) and fuel for helicopters (via Samaritan Air), to name a couple of ways the money is being spent right now.

The BGA Haiti Fundraiser was led by Keli Kennedy the Community Service Coordinator.

February 23, 2010

by Bill Frist, M.D.

Haiti Fund Update 

            As of this week, we've been able to donate over $115,000 of your generous gifts to provide immediate assistance for the victims of the earthquake in Haiti. Most recently, beneficiaries have included Missionary Flights International, which has provided air transport during this time of crisis in Haiti, and Mobile Medical Disaster Relief, which will be purchasing tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis vaccinations for over 6500 children in Port au Prince.

            Below are three great photos of how our monies have been spent already. Love Everybody has used our gift to purchase a water purification machine, Samaritan Air has provided transport for mothers and children to clinics to receive immediate aid, and Promise for Haiti has purchased an autoclave or sterilizer for their clinic in Pignon. We will continue to demonstrate exactly how your dollars have been used as our beneficiaries report back with photographs of how your gift has been spent. 


Annual Report 2009 

            Our Annual Report 2009 will be published this month! We are excited to showcase our programmatic efforts from last year with measureable results from your investment. Over 2200 patients were seen, 175 community health workers/medical personnel/leaders were trained, and 20 training courses were provided to clinics in Guatemala, Kenya, and Rwanda. We are proud of our first class of Global Health Leaders.


            For 2010, we will be supporting 13 Global Health Leaders. We are looking forward to working with new schools and new students including those from Lipscomb University and Belmont University. Our leaders are standing in the gap of the critical need for health workers in developing communities. They are bravely going into clinics, caring for patients, and training health workers to enhance and sustain the health care of children, women, and families.

Support these Global Health Leaders' work today.

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