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.
Nov 04 2011
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.
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.
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.
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.