Bill and Melinda Gates released their annual letter yesterday, making predictions, setting goals, and issuing challenges for the next 15 years.

They believe that the next 15 years will be particularly transformational for world's poorest:"The lives of people in poor countries will improve faster in the next 15 years than at any other time in history. And their lives will improve more than anyone else's."
Hope Through Healing Hands is happy to announce that we are now eligible for Amazon Smile donations! Amazon will donate 0.5% of the price of your eligible AmazonSmile purchases when you shop at
Hope Through Healing Hands is thrilled to be a sponsor of the IF:Gathering in Austin, Texas. This year we will be hosting a luncheon between sessions on Saturday, February 7. IF:Gathering attendees can register for the luncheon here. Today, HTHH’s executive director, Jenny Dyer, is sharing her story at Unleash, the IF:Gathering blog.
Since last week, we’ve been busy with meeting more people and being exposed to a project that we’ll be working on while we’re in the Dominican Republic. Last Wednesday we attended a forum on preventing youth violence and delinquency in West Santo Domingo.
On the 10th of October I attended a Mass that was held in honor of individuals suffering from mental illness as it was World Mental Health Day. This was my first Mass held in Spanish, and additionally, it was held in the first cathedral in the Americas. The experience was really incredible.
Before arriving in Santo Domingo, I had to attend a pre-departure orientation that revolved around my experience, personal and professional expectations, and various rules and advice for the experience. Once I arrived in Santo Domingo, my preceptor, Teresa, took Milca and I out for lunch before heading to the office for their weekly Monday meeting.

Melinda Gates, Kay Warren, Hillary Clinton, Kim Paisley, Desmond Tutu, Jennifer Nettles among Participants in ‘Raising our Voices for Health and Hope’ 

FBC for HMACW logoNASHVILLE, TENNESSEE, Jan. 14, 2015 – Politicians, celebrities, pastors and global health advocates have joined forces to collaborate on a powerful new book designed to shine light on the needs of women and children in the developing world for tools to help their families stay healthy and hopeful for a better future.

Scheduled for release from Zondervan in March 2015, The Mother & Child Project: Raising our Voices for Health and Hope, also will include personal stories from women in places like Kenya, India, Uganda and Burundi. They describe how their lives and those of their children are impacted by the ability to plan the timing and spacing of their pregnancies, and by access to pre-natal and post-natal medical care.  

The contributors share their perspectives on global efforts to increase access to health services that save lives. Kay Warren writes as a mother who empathizes with the grief of those who have lost children to preventable, treatable causes: “I stand by these millions of women and children in their loss around the world to say that in the midst of mourning, we can choose to do something. We, as Americans, can choose to prevent these deaths with our personal and governmental support for maternal, newborn and child health and healthy timing and spacing of pregnancies in ways that honor God. Our voices can and will make a difference.”

Melinda Gates writes, “[M]y teachers are the women – mothers and wives, daughters and sisters – I meet when I travel to developing countries. The stories they share are rooted in universal values and aspirations that connect all people— the ability to provide for our families and offer our children a better future. My favorite part of my job is talking with these women about what they need to unlock the potential to create that future.”

Attempting to take the politics out of these discussions, The Mother & Child Project includes both Democrats and Republicans on this issue, as well as people from diverse faith communities. Michael Gerson, a former speechwriter for President George W. Bush, notes, “The very words ‘family planning’ light up the limbic centers of American politics. From a distance, it seems like a culture war showdown. Close up, in places such as Bweremana [Democratic Republic of Congo], family planning is undeniably pro-life.”

Many factors contribute to the difficulties that women – including mothers – face in the developing world, but a recurring theme is the cultural mindset that sees women as commodities. “The marriage of adolescent girls, sometimes to much older men, sums up much of the harm, injustice and stolen potential that afflict so many girls around the world,” writes Archbishop Desmond Tutu in a piece co-written with Ela Bhatt of India’s Self-Employed Women’s Association.

To explain the broad-based support among Americans for needs that may seem worlds away, Kimberly Williams Paisley writes about her experiences working with mothers and children in Haiti: “What struck me more than anything was the love I saw between mothers and their children. It moved me because I recognized it. I feel that love for my children. I feel that love for my parents. It’s a simple idea but it was life changing to see it in this group of people who I thought had nothing to do with me and my life. It hit me hard. These people matter.”

Victoria Jennings, director of Georgetown University’s Institute for Reproductive Health, describes how family planning – including using fertility awareness methods which are consistent with many women’s cultural norms and values – saves lives. “Studies have shown that allowing women and couples to delay their first birth and space subsequent pregnancies three to five years apart has dramatic effects on the health of the children and the mother, thereby improving the health and wellbeing of the whole family and community,” Jennings notes. “Experts estimate that the use of family planning to space births coupled with adequate pregnancy care could prevent nearly half of newborn deaths and two-thirds of maternal deaths in the developing world.”

The book closes with practical ways attendees can get involved to save lives and see families thrive in the developing world.  Many of the contributors are involved with non-profits or ministries working to address maternal, newborn, and child health issues around the world. The project also highlights the positive impact of U.S. government investments in these needs around the world. Readers are asked to share the stories in the book with those around them, to increase awareness about the issues, and then to become advocates for healthy mothers and children.

The Mother & Child Project was compiled by Hope Through Healing Hands’ Faith-based Coalition for Healthy Mothers and Children Worldwide, which seeks to galvanize faith leaders across the U.S. on the issues of maternal, newborn and child health in developing countries. Particular emphases include the benefits of healthy timing and spacing of pregnancies, including the voluntary use of methods for preventing pregnancy, not including abortion, that are harmonious with members’ unifying values and religious beliefs.

Information about members of who have joined the coalition to date, as well as how others can help, is available at  Endorsements for the coalition are available at

Hope Through Healing Hands is a Nashville-based 501(C) 3 nonprofit with a mission to promote improved quality of life for citizens and communities around the world using health as a currency for peace.  Senator Bill Frist, M.D., is the founder and chair of the organization, and Jenny Eaton Dyer, Ph.D., is the CEO/Executive Director.


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Forbes | December 18, 2014

By Bill Frist

President Obama has on his desk the Senator Paul Simon Water for the World bill. The bill passed both the House and the Senate with no objection, and it has the power to save millions of lives and serve as a beacon of health diplomacy globally.

It’s a bill with far-reaching and powerful implications for health worldwide, and it represents a decade of bipartisan advocacy.

In the fall of 2003, as the only physician in the U.S. Senate, I led a delegation of Senate colleagues to Mozambique to take a closer look at U.S. policy on HIV/AIDS.  We found an HIV emergency, but we also identified a health need more fundamental than even treating the virus: access to clean water.

Just imagine mothers and daughters traveling three to four hours daily just to collect water for their families, leaving less time for other productive family, educational and economic activities. Imagine living in a rural village in Sub-Saharan Africa or East Asia where village members bathe, drink, and wash in the same water source as their livestock. Imagine being a grandmother in a small Ethiopian village and watching five of your grandchildren between the ages of 3 and 8 die from preventable water-related diseases. Try to imagine continuous diarrhea and excruciating stomach pain, leading to dehydration and death. This is what we saw firsthand.

The experience brought the statistics to life. Each year 5 million people—14,000 per day—were dying from preventable waterborne illnesses such as typhoid fever, cholera, dysentery, dengue fever, trachoma, intestinal helminth infections, and schistosomiasis. A child was dying from preventable water borne illnesses every 15 seconds, and these totals exceeded the numbers dying from HIV, malaria, and tuberculosis combined.

Moreover, two-thirds of the world’s population was living in an area of political unrest, and many of these conflicts were over natural resources as important and necessary as shared water basins. The potential impact of a U.S. commitment to helping build healthy communities and strong local governments would be doomed from the start without addressing this backdrop of inadequate access to water, and the resultant morbidity and mortality.

Within months of our return to Washington with these shocking stories, President George Bush and the U.S. Congress made an unprecedented commitment to address the HIV crisis called the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).  Simultaneously, we moved Congress to actively address the less visible yet crucial crisis of unclean water.

As majority leader in the Senate, I asked staff to start drafting legislation to formalize U.S. policy addressing the issues of unsafe water and lack of sanitation in developing nations. We worked side by side with a broad array of stakeholders including a number of faith-based international organizations, such as the Millennium Water Alliance, and the Bush Administration. Throughout 2004 we helped raise the attention of Congress, the public, and the global community to the dire need for safe drinking water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH).

In January 2005, I accompanied another bipartisan group of Senators to East Asia to assist in the aftermath of the December 26, 2004, Indian Ocean tsunami. Traveling along the Sri Lanka coast, the breadth of devastation the storm had caused was staggering.  Local water sources were destroyed, water buckets washed away, and local water sources were contaminated with saltwater. That lack of access to clean water could have led to dysentery, cholera, and malaria, but it didn’t.  Sri Lanka experienced a rapid influx of relief aid to restore access to WASH, and a medical crisis was averted.

Water policy is a bipartisan issue. On March 2, 2005, I, a Republican, was joined by the Democratic Leader Harry Reid when I introduced the “Safe Water: Currency for Peace Act”.  That the bill was bipartisan and introduced by the two leaders in the Senate underscored the significance of the bill and the level to which the issue of clean water had risen in our government.

In the meantime, amid the U.S. House of Representatives hearings on the global water crisis, the United Nations General Assembly adopted Resolution 58 designating March 22 World Water Day and launched the International Decade For Action on global water issues.  This was prompted in part by the strong bipartisan support and attention we from the platform of the Senate Majority Leader office had brought to the issue. The UN resolution established a Millennium Development Goal (MDG) for 2015: to reduce by half the number of people without access WASH.

Back in Washington, DC, we had designed our bipartisan water bill to do three things.  One, it made a clear and unequivocal pronouncement that WASH for people around the world would be a major U.S. policy goal. Two, it authorized a five-year pilot program launched to assist countries with the highest rates of waterborne diseases to develop sustainable water infrastructure systems.  And three, it directed the Secretary of State, along with the Administrator of the USAID, to develop a comprehensive national strategy that would both assess the threats and challenges and recommend specific actions for addressing them. In making this commitment, we would codify in US law for the first time a Millennium Development Goal (MDG).

Henry Hyde, the Republican Chairman of the House International Relations Committee, held hearings during the summer of 2005 on the global water crisis. In October the House reported legislation modeled on our Senate bill.  To ensure smooth passage of the legislation, the Speaker of the House and I agreed that once the House passed their version of the bill, I would see that it passed the Senate without changes and was sent directly to the President.

To honor a former colleague in the US Senate, we changed the name of the bill to the “Senator Paul Simon Water for the Poor” Act. Senator Simon was the much beloved and respected Democrat from Mr. Hyde’s home state of Illinois who had recently passed away. His book, “Tapped Out” addressed the potential impending disaster of water shortages making the bill an apt homage to his efforts.

The bill passed overwhelmingly in the House (319–34) and was adopted by unanimous consent in the Senate on November 16. The enrolled bill was signed into law by President Bush on December 1, 2005.

March 2015 will mark the end of the U.N.’s “Water for Life” Decade For Action. Thanks to bipartisan support and the tireless work of those who have seen firsthand the power of clean water, the Millennium Development Goal of reducing the number people without access to clean water has already been met.

But we are far from done.  Indeed today 748 million people still do not have clean water and 2.5 billion live without adequate sanitation. Children are still dying from preventable waterborne disease and too many women’s lives are limited by the toil of collecting clean water each day.

Last May, USAID announced the creation of an Office of Water and a specific focus on a more cohesive Water and Development Strategy. The Senator Paul Simon Water for the World Act was introduced in the House in August of 2013 by Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-Oregon) and Congressman Ted Poe (R-Texas) in a continuing bipartisan manner to recognize and build on the work of USAID. The Senate bill was introduced in November 2014 by Senators Dick Durbin (D-Illinois), Bob Corker (R-Tennessee), Chris Coons (D-Delaware) and Jeff Flake (R-Arizona). This bill engendered the same bipartisan support as the initial Water for the Poor Act, and it will continue to support the work we started in 2005.

As of this writing, the bill has passed both the House and Senate without objection, and is on its way to President Obama for his signature. The most recent iteration of the Act introduces accountability strategies to address implementation challenges and focus resources where they are most needed.

Additionally, the annual amount appropriated by the U.S. Congress to implement the Water for the Poor Act of 2005 has now grown to $382.5 million in Fiscal Year 2015 and the most recent spending bill also requires that not less than $145 million of that be spent on programs in sub-Saharan Africa.

Water policy extends far beyond health issues, important as they are.  It undergirds our U.S. foreign diplomacy as well.  A 2012 National Intelligence Estimate on Global Water Security found that over the next decade, countries of strategic importance to the United States will experience water shortages, poor water quality, or floods that will risk instability increase regional tensions.

In my own experiences as a physician regularly leading medical mission trips, I am constantly struck that providing medical assistance and public health services to others is interpreted as a currency of peace and ultimately as an aspect of public diplomacy. Our assistance to other nations in these areas seems to accelerate in impact when it provides tangible benefits to everyday people.  The Water for the Poor Act has been proven.

The economic impact of smart water policy has been demonstrated.  Every $1 spent on clean drinking water and sanitation is returned as $4 of savings in health costs and economic benefit.

We’ve made great strides since I first saw the reality of the water crisis in Mozambique in 2003, but there are still lives to be saved. In our ever more tenuous global community, it seems to me that what we knew in 2005 continues to hold true today: smart water national policy is a moral, economic, and diplomatic imperative.

FBC for HMACW logoSen. Bill Frist, Amy Grant, Kimberly Williams Paisley, Jennifer Nettles and Dr. Tony Campolo among signatories on letter sent to Congress

NASHVILLE, Tenn., Dec. 8, 2014 – As Congress is expected this week to finalize and vote on its funding bills for Fiscal Year 2015, which includes the funding for global maternal and child health programs, the Faith-Based Coalition for Healthy Mothers & Children Worldwide is seizing this moment to encourage the leaders of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees to protect these vital investments.

The Coalition, which was formed by the faith-based medical nonprofit Hope Through Healing Hands, recently invited dozens of leaders across the country to “stand up and advocate this holiday season for the lives of mothers, newborns and children around the world,” just as they do for those in need in their own communities and congregations this time of year.

The letter to Congress states:

Our coalition is comprised of advocates who are speaking out about the struggles that mothers and children in developing nations face every day. When women and girls lack access to the education and resources they need to create a healthy plan for becoming mothers, the result is tragic: 287,000 women in developing nations die from preventable complications during childbirth, and 6.6 million children die before their fifth birthday each year.
We seek to galvanize faith-based leaders and their constituencies around the issues of maternal, newborn, and child health (MNCH) as well as healthy timing and spacing of pregnancies (HTSP) to improve maternal health and reduce child mortality. We recognize the difficult decisions you face as you finalize funding levels, and we respectfully request that you make the Maternal and Child Health and International Family Planning accounts a priority as you decide the final FY 2015 funding levels. We have seen firsthand the life-saving impacts that these programs achieve, and as people of faith we believe that we all have a duty to do what is within our power to help these women and their families to achieve their potential through improved health.

The list of individuals of influence who have signed their name to the letter includes:

Tony Campolo, Ph.D., Author & Speaker, Eastern University, St. David’s, Pennsylvania
Gary Edmonds, President/CEO, Food for the Hungry, Phoenix, Arizona
Bill Frist, Hope Through Healing Hands, Nashville, Tennessee
Gary Furr, Ph.D., Pastor, Vestavia Hills Baptist Church, Birmingham, Alabama
Mike Glenn, Sr. Pastor, Brentwood Baptist Church, Brentwood, Tennessee
Amy Grant, Artist, Nashville, Tennessee
Scott Hamilton, Olympic Gold Medalist & Philanthropist, Franklin, Tennessee
Tracie Hamilton, Philanthropist and Mother, Franklin, Tennessee
Dan Haseltine, Artist, Jars of Clay, Franklin, Tennessee
Brian McLaren, Author & Speaker, Marco Island, Florida
Bill Mugford, Pastor, HIV&AIDS Initiative, Saddleback Church, Lake Forest, California
Jena Nardella, Blood:Water Mission, Nashville, Tennessee
Jennifer Nettles, Artist (Sugarland), Nashville, Tennessee
Lindsey Nobles, COO, If: Gathering, Austin, Texas
Scott Sauls, Sr. Pastor, Christ Presbyterian Church, Nashville, Tennessee
Rev. Sarah Shelton, Sr. Pastor, Baptist Church of the Covenant, Birmingham, Alabama
Anita Smith, Childrens AIDS Fund, Washington, D.C.
Michael W. Smith, Artist, Franklin, Tennessee
Shepherd Smith, International Youth Development, Washington, D.C.
Third Day, Christian Band, Atlanta, Georgia
Larry Thompson, Pastor, First Baptist Church Fort Lauderdale, Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Sten Vermund, M.D., Ph.D., Vanderbilt Institute for Global Health, Nashville, Tennessee
Kimberly Williams Paisley, Actor & Philanthropist, Franklin, Tennessee
Jim Wallis, President and Founder, Sojourners, Washington, D.C.

As a signatory and CEO/Executive Director of Hope Through Healing Hands, Jenny Eaton Dyer, Ph.D., is excited about the variety of individuals who are coming together to lift their voices on behalf of women and children in the developing world.

“In the words of Margaret Mead, it ‘only takes a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens [to] change the world.’ Such is the case with global health advocacy. These activists are taking a stand for women’s health worldwide. We hope Congress hears their voices.” said Dyer.

Hope Through Healing Hands is a Nashville-based 501(C) 3 nonprofit with a mission to promote improved quality of life for citizens and communities around the world using health as a currency for peace.  Senator Bill Frist, M.D., is the founder and chair of the organization, and Jenny Eaton Dyer, Ph.D., is the CEO/Executive Director.


Note to editors: For more information, visit

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