By BONO
New York Times

I’LL tell you the worst part about it, for me.

It was the look in their eyes when the nurses gave them the diagnosis — H.I.V.-positive — then said there was no treatment. I saw no anger in their expression. No protest. If anything, just a sort of acquiescence.

The anger came from the nurses, who knew there really was a treatment — just not for poor people in poor countries. They saw the absurdity in the fact that an accident of geography would deny their patients the two little pills a day that could save their lives.

This was less than a decade ago. And all of us who witnessed these dedicated African workers issuing death sentence after death sentence still feel fury and shame. AIDS set off an almost existential crisis in the West. It forced us to ask ourselves the big, uncomfortable questions, like whether capitalism, which invented the global village and kept it well stocked with stuff, could also create global solutions. Whether we were interested in charity... or justice.

The wanton loss of so many lives in Africa offended the very idea of America: the idea that everyone is created equal and that your destiny is your own to make. By the late 1990s, AIDS campaigners in the United States and around the world teamed up with scientists and doctors to insist that someone — anyone — put the fire out. The odds against this were as extreme as the numbers: in 2002, two million people were dying of AIDS and more than three million were newly infected with H.I.V. Around 50,000 people in the sub-Saharan region had access to treatment.

Yet today, here we are, talking seriously about the “end” of this global epidemic. There are now 6.6 million people on life-saving AIDS medicine. But still too many are being infected. New research proves that early antiretroviral treatment, especially for pregnant women, in combination with male circumcision, will slash the rate of new H.I.V. cases by up to 60 percent. This is the tipping point we have been campaigning for. We’re nearly there.

How did we get here? America led. I mean really led.

The United States performed the greatest act of heroism since it jumped into World War II. When the history books are written, they will show that millions of people owe their lives to the Yankee tax dollar, to just a fraction of an aid budget that is itself less than 1 percent of the federal budget.

For me, a fan and a pest of America, it’s a tale of strange bedfellows: the gay community, evangelicals and scruffy student activists in a weird sort of harmony; military men calling AIDS in Africa a national security issue; the likes of Nancy Pelosi, Barbara Lee and John Kerry in lock step with Bill Frist and Rick Santorum; Jesse Helms, teary-eyed, arriving by walker to pledge support from the right; the big man, Patrick Leahy, offering to punch out a cranky Congressional appropriator; Jeffrey Sachs, George Soros and Bill Gates, backing the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria; Rupert Murdoch (yes, him) offering the covers of the News Corporation.

Also: a conservative president, George W. Bush, leading the largest ever response to the pandemic; the same Mr. Bush banging his desk when I complained that the drugs weren’t getting there fast enough, me apologizing to Mr. Bush when they did; Bill Clinton, arm-twisting drug companies to drop their prices; Hillary Rodham Clinton, making it policy to eradicate the transmission of H.I.V. from mother to child; President Obama, who is expected to make a game changing announcement this World AIDS Day to finish what his predecessors started — the beginning of the end of AIDS.

And then there were the everyday, every-stripe Americans. Like a tattooed trucker I met off I-80 in Iowa who, when he heard how many African truck drivers were infected with H.I.V., told me he’d go and drive the pills there himself.

Thanks to them, America led. Really led.

This was smart power. Genius, really. In 2007, 8 out of the 10 countries in the world that viewed the United States most fondly were African. And it can’t be a bad thing for America to have friends on a continent that is close to half Muslim and that, by 2025, will surpass China in population.

Activists are a funny lot. When the world suddenly starts marching in step with us, we just point out with (self-)righteous indignation all that remains to be done. But on this World AIDS Day I would like you to stop and consider what America has achieved in this war to defend lives lived far away and sacred principles held closer to home.

The moonshot, I know, is a tired metaphor; I’ve exhausted it myself. But America’s boldest leap of faith is worth recalling. And the thing is, as I see it, the Eagle hasn’t landed yet. Budget cuts ... partisan divisions ... these put the outcome in jeopardy just as the science falls into place. To get this far and not plant your flag would be one of the greatest accidental evils of this recession.

Bono is the lead singer of the band U2 and a founder of the advocacy group ONE and the (Product)RED campaign.

An Impatient Optimist

Dec 01 2011

In 1981, I was a surgeon in training at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. I still remember the day we learned about a strange, new, deadly infection that presented on the West Coast. A little over a year later, we learned it was caused by a virus transmitted in the blood, a vital fact for a doctor performing surgery every day.

As I watched the epidemic grow from a handful of cases to a few hundred to several million, I also witnessed the cases grow in biblical proportions in less developed nations, namely across Africa. While I served in the Senate, I volunteered on annual mission trips to do surgery in villages ravaged by civil war. In these forgotten corners of the world, I witnessed how HIV was hollowing out societies.
It’s now been one full week since my arrival in Kijabe, Kenya. Simply speaking, to understand everything I’ve seen and experienced in the past week will take months of careful thought and reflection. I’ve seen the shackling consequences of poverty, the natural history of surgical disease more advanced than I’d ever seen before, a lack of medical resources, and the list goes on; but, overshadowing all of this, I’ve seen the good several committed people can do at one place in time to positively affect patients and their families for a lifetime.

The Tennessean

by Bill Frist

Russian-U.S. relations are complicated and, at times, trying. But since we share a commitment to improve the health of our citizens, there is much we can learn through dialogue and collaboration. And there is no better place to do so than Tennessee, the heart of health-service delivery innovation.

Even at the height of the Cold War, U.S. and Russian scientists collaborated closely to eradicate polio and smallpox. Similar collaboration can lead to mutual benefit for today’s shared challenges, chronic disease and obesity, with a byproduct of improved diplomacy. Collaborations on health-service delivery in Tennessee between Russian and U.S. doctors are a powerful example of health diplomacy and a valuable currency for trust and understanding.

Russia has more doctors, health-care workers and hospitals than most countries, but standards remain variable. Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has committed $16 billion over two years to bolster working conditions, training, and national electronic health records with a promise to trim bureaucracy.

The Washington-based Open World Leadership Center invited 30 health professionals from Kirov State, Russia, to come to the U. S., specifically to Tennessee, to study and explore financing, organization and delivery of health infrastructure and services.

The Russian delegation spent a day in Washington to better understand how health policy is formulated at the federal level and to visit the National Institutes of Health. They then came to Tennessee for a week, spending time in Memphis, focusing on research, and in Knoxville, focusing on rural health delivery.

The visit culminated in Nashville, where they observed firsthand our $70 billion global health-care industry. Hosts Nashville Health Care Council and Hope Through Healing Hands welcomed the travelers to the “Silicon Valley” of health care.

Industry leaders citywide opened their doors with sessions on medical simulation at Vanderbilt and HIV research by Meharry. The group also received an inside look at the public health sector’s progress on making communities healthier from state Health Commissioner Dr. John Dreyzehner, Nashville Mayor Karl Dean and Metro Public Health Director Dr. Bill Paul. The day concluded with global disease-management leader Healthways, and focused on the company’s work to improve well-being through prevention.

Most valuable, however, was the opportunity to hear what the delegates found most applicable to their home. Among them were the development of IT for unified e-records, logistics for emergency services, and the great benefit of community volunteerism.

As the U.S. and Russia attempt to address growing health demands, we have much to learn from each other. Collaboration, using health as a currency for peace, will mean healthier societies, better diplomacy and improved bilateral relationships between our nations.

Sen. William H. Frist is a nationally recognized heart and lung transplant surgeon and former majority leader in the U.S. Senate.

Nashville Business Journal
by Chris Silva, Staff Reporter

Former Tennessee Sen. Bill Frist was at the Hermitage Hotel this morning with about 30 Russian physicians and a cadre of Nashville’s health care and business leaders to promote global unity and attempt to solve public health and behavioral issues that lead to chronic diseases.

Frist said Russia faces many of the same health care dilemmas as Middle Tennessee.

“We do have the best health service infrastructure here in Middle Tennessee, so why not share it with the global community – a oneness of mankind?” said Frist, who prompted Sen. Lamar Alexander to send a request to Open World Leadership Center to host the health exchange. “Out of our commitment to global health, democracy, being the best in the health service delivery and using health as a currency for peace, we had the conference today. It will be a foundation for future exchanges.”

The Russian visitors started out with a tour of Vanderbilt University Medical Center this morning and listened to a presentation from an expert from Meharry Medical College on HIV/AIDS research.

Ralph Schulz, president of the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce, was on hand, as was Mayor Karl Dean.

“I am concerned most about this issue of obesity,” Dean said. “It’s going to be a battle that will be won or lost in the Southeast.”

Today’s events were hosted by the Nashville Health Care Council and Hope Through Healing Hands.
I arrived in Kijabe, Kenya with two other senior anesthesia residents from Vanderbilt midday Sat Oct 29th, after departing Nashville Thursday Oct 27th, flying overnight to London, and then all day to Nairobi. We spent the night in the Mennonite Guest House in Nairobi, where we met several missionaries coming and going to and from various parts of east Africa, and then were driven up to Kijabe the next morning.

by Jenny Eaton Dyer, Ph.D.

Both Friend Force of Knoxville and Friend Force of Memphis are hosting the Russian delegates this week, including today. 

The Russian delegates in Knoxville will be meeting with governmental officials Mayor Daniel Brown as well as Judge Tom Varlan today. They will be briefed on the bluegrass music of Appalachia at the Knoxville Visitor's Center, and their afternoon will be spent visiting with Cherokee Health Systems. This evening, the North Rotary Club of Knoxville will host the Russian delegates for dinner.

In Memphis, the delegates will meet with the Memphis Medical Society as well as with the University of Memphis. At the University, there will be round table discussions regarding healthcare delivery in Russia and the United States among other presentations.

As 2011 draws to an end, The AIDS Support Organisation (TASO) is elated to record yet another milestone in restoring hope to people affected by HIV and AIDs pandemic in Uganda. The organization, with support from her development partners and friends, has completed the construction of a multi-million complex, named House of Hope.

The attractive building, located at Plot 10 Windsor Loop, Kampala, was officially opened on 16th of September 2011 in a grand ceremony presided by Hon. Princess Kabakumba Masiko, Minister of Presidency, who represented H.E Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, President of the Republic of Uganda.

by Jenny Eaton Dyer, Ph.D.

In following the meetings and events of the Russian delegation learning from Tennessee's wealth of health care corporations, universities, and institutions, we will share their schedule throughout the week.

Today, Tuesday, November 1, the delegates visiting Knoxville have spent the morning at Pellissippi State Community College touring the Nursing Department. This afternoon, they toured the UT Hospital and had a quick photo at the Rachmaninoff statue in World’s Fair Park. Afterwards, they will visit the Knoxville Museum of Art and learn about their Mobile Meals program for the elderly.

In Memphis, the other delegates met this morning at the Christ Community Health Services. This organization is a faith-based network of medical and dental clinics supplemented by a range of community outreach activities.  CCHS serves a primarily low-income minority population that does not have the resources to obtain care elsewhere. For lunch, they visited the Caritas Village. And, this afternoon, they visited the Assisi Foundation of Memphis for a presentation and discussion on current health care reform initiatives and then the Hope and Healing Center to learn about their wellness and fitness program for a low-income population.

I arrived at the beginning of September for my first time in Africa. I really did not know what to expect but after 2 weeks I am really deeply impressed. Kijabe hospital is a medical center in Kenya where people get medical treatment at a high level for a reasonable price. The doctors are well trained – mostly in America and Australia, the residents, house and medical officers are highly motivated, have abundant basic medical knowledge, and, on top of that, they receive a detailed and profound training in their specialties that will prepare them for their challenges in the smaller community hospitals. Politics just has to make sure that they stay here in Africa to serve their countries and their people after they are finished with their training.

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