On Friday afternoon, July 18th, we arrived in Kigali tired and a little dizzy after eight hours of flying across East Africa in a Cessna Caravan at 13,000 feet.

Norfolk, VA. (July 31, 2008) — Physicians for Peace, an international organization focusing on medical education in developing nations, announced it will award former Senator Bill Frist the second annual Charles E. Horton Humanitarian Award during the organization’s Celebrating the Nations Gala on Oct 4, 2008. Frist will also serve as keynote speaker for the event. The award was given last year to Professor Jeffrey D. Sachs, noted expert on global development and Director of Columbia University’s Earth Institute.

Senator Frist, who began his career as a cardiothoracic surgeon, represented the state of Tennessee in the United States Senate from 1995 to 2007, serving as Senate Majority Leader during the final four years of his tenure. Since retirement from the Senate, he has been active in issues of global health and development, including partnering with the charity Save the Children to address the dire crisis in children’s health in the developing world. As Frist announced in September of 2007, he intends to lead a drive by the charity to make the preventable deaths of millions of children in the developing world an issue for all Americans.

Dr. Frist’s work in this field aligns with the Physicians for Peace mission to foster medical diplomacy. As Dr. Frist recently wrote in the Yale Law and Policy Review, “Health is a unique vehicle that crosses boundaries in times of war and distress, and in times of suffering and turmoil. Working to improve the health of our fellow man sends a message that speaks to our common humanity and serves as a vehicle for peacemakers.

The Charles E. Horton Humanitarian Award for Global Health is bestowed in honor of the late Physicians for Peace founder, Charles E. Horton, MD. Horton, an internationally recognized humanitarian, founded Physicians for Peace in 1989 and served as its leader until his death in late 2006. Through Horton’s leadership, the organization has touched the lives of thousands of patients and doctors in more than 50 countries around the world.

“The career of Dr. Frist is a wonderful example of public service,” noted Physicians for Peace CEO, Brigadier General (USAF Ret.). “His segue to humanitarian work following his retirement from the Senate is an inspiration to all Americans. His leadership and commitment to solving the problems of healthcare in the developing world will be an invaluable addition to these ongoing efforts. Physicians for Peace is proud to honor him with the Horton Award.”

ABOUT PHYSICIANS FOR PEACE

Physicians for Peace is an international private voluntary organization that mobilizes healthcare educators to assist developing nations with unmet medical needs and scarce resources. Through effective, hands-on medical education and training, clinical care and donated medical supplies, Physicians for Peace creates long-term, sustainable, replicable, and evidence-based projects to help partner nations build medical capability and capacity to help themselves. Volunteers for the 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization have conducted medical missions in more than 50 countries. More information is available at www.physiciansforpeace.org.

This interview was taken in Rwanda while Sen. Bill Frist, MD was traveling with The ONE Campaign's delegation to learn more about the country, its initiatives, and what America can do to provide sustainable support.

In the 14 years since its genocide, Rwanda has made one of the most remarkable postwar comebacks of any poverty-level country in history -- in public health, agriculture, tourism, small business, and technology. The high-profile bipartisan American delegation of former government officials that visited the country last week witnessed solid economic growth as it assessed Rwanda’s needs for the future.
Today we are focusing on Health issues. An unhealthy society cannot be productive no matter how much money is spent or how much aid is given—by the U.S. or any other nation for that matter. Health is fundamental. It is a precondition to prosperity.
How in the world can you take an economy in which over 50% of the population is under the poverty level, is landlocked, ranks somewhere around 160th out of 180 countries on the “Developmental Scale,” and even think about “making extreme poverty history?” as we in ONE like to say.
Bi-partisan group including two former U.S. Senators and the wife of Republican hopeful John McCain are in Rwanda to witness some of the successful development projects taking place there. Thomas Rippe reports from Kigali.

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