Having been both a surgeon and a public servant, I am convinced that health and medicine are the best currency for peace and healing worldwide. I started Hope Through Healing Hands to put that belief into action.
Since 1997, I have traveled to southern Sudan on medical missions. When I first visited the region, I found a barren land decimated by a quarter century of civil war, and thousands of people with desperate medical needs. Samaritan’s Purse, the organization with which I was working in Sudan at that time, started a small clinic in an abandoned schoolhouse. There was no running water and no electricity, but the volunteer physicians treated as many people as they could. I scrubbed in for surgery with water boiled in a coffee pot, and completed the last procedure of the day by flashlight. It wasn’t a sophisticated setup, but word spread quickly that Americans had appeared and were helping save lives.
When I returned the following year, I discovered a normalcy that hadn't existed in decades. People had returned to the once war-torn area and had begun to rebuild the shattered community to live close to the clinic. Over time the clinic continued to grow. Brave and dedicated local health workers learned techniques of care, and a full time surgeon treated several thousand patients. Churches and markets were rebuilt, and the school reopened.
This is what I mean when I say, "Medicine is the currency for peace."
The clinic, the surgery, and the medicine healed more than physical ailments. All of this progress occurred, and this community was rebuilt, on the foundation of trust established by volunteer American doctors giving unselfishly of themselves to better the lives of a people without hope.
Today, staffed by World Medical Mission of Samaritan’s Purse, that hospital treats 60,000 people a year, many of whom walk for days to be seen and treated. There is still no running water in the hospital, but there is peace built upon the compassion and generosity of Americans, the trust established through the delivery of care, and the connections that come from the person-to-person intimacy of medicine.
This is the power of global health diplomacy: empowering a community to achieve health, healing, and peace.
Will you join me? Together we can change the world.
Senator Bill Frist, M.D.
Chairman of the Board