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.
In May 2007, Dr. William H. Frist co-led a Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) delegation to Russia to participate in the first St. Petersburg State University Forum on Global Health. The forum explored bi-national cooperation in health and health care delivery, including the exploration of establishing a public health initiative in Russia.

At the conclusion of the trip, Senator Frist published the paper: “Improving Russian-U.S. Collaboration on Health” (Washington Quarterly, 30:4, 2007, pp. 7-17) which focused on how Russia and the U.S., in a time fraught with tension, could work together to solve public health issues in terms of policy, behavioral change, and chronic disease. Both could emerge as better, healthier, more viable countries, with health partnerships strengthening diplomatic relations.
No doubt, working at Kijabe is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Upon setting foot on the dirt road leading to the hospital, I knew I would face many hurdles over the next four weeks as a general surgery resident. Over time, I appreciated subtle clues and changes in each patient’s physical exam to help guide the management of their care without relying on further information.

Bill Frist Flies Missions Worldwide to Help Those in Need

Contact: Dan Hubbard, (202) 783-9360, [email protected]

Washington, DC, August 22, 2011 – Esteemed doctor, pilot and former U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist has been awarded the National Business Aviation Association’s (NBAA’s) 2011 Al Ueltschi Award for Humanitarian Leadership in recognition of his life-saving efforts worldwide, and the importance of business aviation to those endeavors.

An accomplished medical researcher and heart transplant surgeon, Dr. Frist was elected to the Senate representing Tennessee in 1994, the first practicing physician elected to the lawmaking body since 1928. During his two terms in office, Frist rose to the majority leader position faster than any previous senator while spearheading efforts to improve medical access for Americans and others worldwide, notably leading on bills like the Medicare Modernization Act and the passage of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). PEPFAR combats the spread of disease in resource-limited areas worldwide, and since its passage has provided life-saving anti-retroviral drug treatments to over 3.2 million people and counseling, testing and education to over 33 million to help prevent new infections. This ambitious program is often credited with saving a generation of Africans.

A true citizen-legislator, Frist has continued his regular medical mission trips worldwide since his retirement from the Senate in 2007. Frist – a pilot since the age of 16 and holder of multi-engine, commercial and instrument ratings – has consistently relied on aviation and his own piloting skills to expand his life-long commitment to healing to areas around the globe.

From using aviation night after night to personally transport hearts during his time-sensitive transplant procedures, to piloting planes throughout war-torn Sudan to perform surgery, Frist credits aviation as a powerful instrument for healing. Within days of the levees breaking in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, he flew his plane to care for those stranded. In flooded Bangladesh, he relied on floatplanes to ferry needed personnel and supplies on behalf of Save the Children and Samaritan’s Purse, and in 2010, he immediately flew to Haiti to perform surgery in the aftermath of the earthquake in Haiti.

“Bill Frist has combined his skill as an aviator with his expertise in medicine to reach people in need of life-saving treatment at home and all over the world,” said NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen. “From piloting his own aircraft throughout Sudan to give surgical care, to using aviation to reach and treat victims days after the devastating earthquake in Haiti, the senator and doctor truly ‘walks the walk’ in assisting those most in need of help. He exemplifies the humanitarian spirit that’s always been a part of business aviation, and we are honored to recognize his pioneering work with this award.”

In his 2009 book Heart to Serve: The Passion to Bring Health, Hope, and Healing, Frist wrote about his belief that medicine unites the world in its common goal for peace. "People don't usually go to war against someone who helped save their children," he wrote. "While the world often sees America's tougher side...when people see America's more compassionate, humanitarian side, the barriers come down, and peace becomes a viable possibility."

Established in 2006, NBAA’s Al Ueltschi Award for Humanitarian Leadership recognizes the spirit of service demonstrated by humanitarian leaders within the business aviation community. The award is named for Albert L. Ueltschi, who was instrumental in the development of ORBIS, an international non-profit organization dedicated to preventing blindness and saving sight.

The award will be presented to Frist at the Opening General Session for NBAA’s 64th Annual Meeting & Convention (NBAA2011) in Las Vegas, scheduled for 8:30 a.m. on Monday, October 10, 2011. The full Convention will be held Monday, October 10 through Wednesday, October 12.

Past recipients of the Al Ueltschi Award for Humanitarian Leadership include Cessna Aircraft Company (2006), the Veterans Airlift Command (2007), Corporate Angel Network (2008), and the Civil Air Patrol (2009). Last year, the Association honored humanitarians throughout the business aviation community for their efforts in providing relief efforts following the earthquake that devastated Haiti in January 2010.

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Founded in 1947 and based in Washington, DC, the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) is the leading organization for companies that rely on general aviation aircraft to help make their businesses more efficient, productive and successful. The Association represents more than 8,000 companies and provides more than 100 products and services to the business aviation community, including the NBAA Annual Meeting & Convention, the world's largest civil aviation trade show. Learn more about NBAA at www.nbaa.org.

Members of the media may receive NBAA Press Releases immediately via e-mail. To subscribe to the NBAA Press Release e-mail list, submit the online form at www.nbaa.org/news/pr/subscribe.

After working with over 100 volunteers and getting 5000 new supporters for clean water initiatives, Water = Hope wrapped up another fun summer with the Brad Paisley H2O tour!

Our last weekend started out in rainy Philadelphia, where we were still able to have a great night - Philly was one of our best stops on the 2010 tour! - thanks to a hard working volunteer team that braved the elements to talk to fans and build support. We could not have done it without them!

by Bill Frist

Wall Street Journal

Droughts happen. Famines ensue. Families are destroyed. You can't control Mother Nature. On a fact-finding mission to the border of Kenya and Somalia this month, I learned otherwise.

Traveling with Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden, I knew going in that 12 million people in the Horn of Africa are at risk of starvation and death because of the worst drought in 60 years. Five regions in war-torn Somalia are experiencing famine, and 29,000 children in the region have died in the past three months. There is much Americans can do—immediately and inexpensively—to save lives and quickly reverse the current trajectory of catastrophe.

Mrs. Biden and I spent most of our time engaging refugees who emotionally recounted their painful, weeks-long treks through parched lands with little food and water, having no choice but to leave their husbands in war-torn Somalia, often losing a child or two along the way to dehydration or lung infection.

The extreme drought has destroyed crops and caused the death of 80% of the livestock. For most Somalis who live a pastoral lifestyle, these conditions amount to an American losing their home, job and all worldly possessions, with no food or water available to beg for or borrow.

At the Dadaab camp along the Kenya-Somalia border, more than 1,600 refugees arrived on the day of our visit, bringing the total past 50,000 for the past month. Designed for 90,000 people, the camp is swollen beyond capacity with 430,000. Another 45,000, typically malnourished with crippled immune systems, wait outside the camp with little water, no sanitation, minimal health care and only makeshift shelter.

The world community has increasingly responded to the crisis in the past few weeks, but the demand continues to outstrip what is provided. The central challenge is access: The famine is centered in lawless Somalia, which is dominated by the al Qaeda-affiliated terrorist group al Shabaab. Nongovernmental organizations find it dangerous to operate there, as 47 aid workers have been killed over the past two years and many others kidnapped.

Mrs. Biden and I witnessed an ongoing outbreak of measles in the Dadaab camp, including a new wave among refugees in their 20s. This observation suggests an unanticipated need to vaccinate older age groups. Few Somalis have been vaccinated before coming to the camps (al Shabaab discourages vaccinations, considering them a Western intervention to be shunned). In a crowded camp of almost half a million, a small measles outbreak can explode and lead to mass casualties. Vaccinations can stop this—and each costs only a dollar.

Then there's water. Its absence causes famine, and its unclean varieties cause diarrhea that is dehydrating and can be fatal. That and acute malnutrition are the big killers. But nutrient-supplied oral fluids can bring young, malnourished children back from the brink of death within a few hours.

All these health interventions are cheap and easy to administer. A dollar goes a long way toward saving lives in Africa.

Outside of immediate crisis relief, our past investments clearly are paying off. U.S.-supported early-warning networks identified the famine threat a year ago, allowing Kenya and Ethiopia to begin stockpiling food reserves and planning regional responses. The U.S. is working with the World Food Program and the United Nations to initiate innovative programs like food vouchers that reduce corruption and better distribute food. These programs encourage regional and private-sector solutions to shortages, with smoother flow of foodstuffs from more plentiful areas to drought-stricken ones.

In times of budget cuts, we must remember that, according to Oxfam International, emergency food relief during a famine costs seven times more than preventing a disaster to begin with. Hence U.S. efforts such as the multi-year, multi-agency Feed the Future program to stimulate research into making plants more nutritious and crops more drought-resistant.

With the chaotic economy dominating the news, it's easy to focus on ourselves rather than others so far away. But when we remember that we spend only a tiny fraction of one percent of our budget on developmental aid, that recent assistance is smarter and more targeted than in the past, and that our investments in the Horn of Africa alone have saved millions of lives, each of us can be proud of our past investments and supportive of their growth in the future.

What can we do as individuals who care? A good place to start is the list of aid organizations on the website of the U.S. Agency for International Development, www.usaid.gov.

Dr. Frist, a physician and former majority leader of the U.S. Senate, is chairman of Hope Though Healing Hands.

The Rugged Altruists

Aug 24 2011

by David Brooks

NYT Op-ed

Nairobi, Kenya

Many Americans go to the developing world to serve others. A smaller percentage actually end up being useful. Those that do have often climbed a moral ladder. They start out with certain virtues but then develop more tenacious ones.

The first virtue they possess is courage, the willingness to go off to a strange place. For example, Blair Miller was a student at the University of Virginia who decided she wanted to teach abroad. She Googled “teach abroad” and found a woman who had been teaching English in a remote town in South Korea and was looking for a replacement.

Miller soon found herself on a plane and eventually at a small airport in southern South Korea. There was no one there to greet her. Eventually, the airport closed and no one came to pick her up. A monk was the only other person around and eventually he, too, left and Miller was alone.

Finally, a van with two men rolled in and scooped her up. After a few months of struggle, she had a fantastic year at a Korean fishing village, the only Westerner for miles and miles. Now she travels around Kenya, Pakistan and India for the Acumen Fund, a sort of venture capital fund that invests in socially productive enterprises, like affordable housing and ambulance services.

The second virtue they develop is deference, the willingness to listen and learn from the moral and intellectual storehouses of the people you are trying to help.

Rye Barcott was a student at the University of North Carolina who spent a summer sharing a 10-by-10 shack in Kibera, the largest slum in Nairobi, Kenya. One night he awoke with diarrhea and stumbled to the public outhouse. He slid onto the cement floor and vomited as his bare body hit puddles of human waste.

He left his soiled pants outside the hut, but when he went to find them later they were gone. He was directed to another hut where a stick-thin girl, with missing clumps of hair, had the pants, scrubbed and folded, in her lap. Barcott said softly, “I’m grateful,” and asked her why she had cleaned them. “Because I can,” she replied. A week later, she died of AIDS and her body was taken in a wheelbarrow to a communal grave.

Over the next several years, Barcott served as an officer in the Marines in places like Iraq and created an inspiring organization called Carolina for Kibera, which offers health services and serves as a sort of boys and girls club for children in the slum.

The greatest and most essential virtue is thanklessness, the ability to keep serving even when there are no evident rewards — no fame, no admiration, no gratitude.

Stephen Letchford is a doctor working in Kijabe, Kenya. One night, years ago, when he was working at a hospital in Zambia, a man stole a colleague’s computer. Letchford drove the police down the single road leading from town. The police found the man carrying the computer and, in the course of the arrest, shot him in the abdomen.

They put the man in the back of the car and rushed him back to the hospital to save his life. Letchford pressed his wounds to stem the bleeding, using tattered garbage bags as surgical gloves. He had scraped his hands gardening that day and was now covered by the man’s blood.

They saved the thief’s life and discovered he was infected with H.I.V. For several days, Letchford and his family were not sure whether he had been infected by the man who robbed them. Their faith was tested. (They later learned that he was not infected.) When the man recovered, he showed no remorse, no gratitude; he just folded in on himself, cold and uncommunicative.

This final virtue is what makes service in the developing world not just an adventure, a spiritual experience or a cinematic moment. It represents a noncontingent commitment to a specific place and purpose.

As you talk to people involved in the foreign aid business — on the giving and the receiving ends — you are struck by how much disillusionment there is.

Very few nongovernmental organizations or multilateral efforts do good, many Kenyans say. They come and go, spending largely on themselves, creating dependency not growth. The government-to-government aid workers spend time at summit meetings negotiating protocols with each other.

But in odd places, away from the fashionableness, one does find people willing to embrace the perspectives and do the jobs the locals define — in businesses, where Westerners are providing advice about boring things like accounting; in hospitals where doctors, among many aggravations, try to listen to the symptoms the patients describe.

Susan Albright, a nurse working with disabled children in Kijabe, says, “Everything I’ve ever learned I put to use here.” Her husband, Leland Albright, a prominent neurosurgeon, says simply, “This is where God wants us to be.”

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