I’ve seen firsthand the dramatic health needs outside of the United States, and I know that health truly is a currency for peace, hope, and diplomacy.
My own study of global health grew in parallel with the HIV virus. When I was a surgical intern, the virus did not exist in America. Since then it has hollowed out societies worldwide, killing 1.7 million people in 2011. We do not yet have a cure.
But the HIV virus is not the only rampant killer. Clean water, newborn and child survival, maternal health, and other infectious diseases are also major issues for vulnerable populations in developing nations. Almost 800 million people around the world don’t have access to clean water, and about 19,000 children die every day of treatable, preventable disease. Pneumonia is the number one killer of children.
In 2004, I launched Hope Through Healing Hands, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to promote improved quality of life for citizens and communities around the world using health as a currency for peace. Through the prism of health diplomacy, we envision a world where all individuals and families can obtain access to health care information, services, and support for the opportunity at a fuller life. Specifically, we seek sustainability through health care service and training. This includes efforts for maternal health & child survival, clean water, extreme poverty, and global disease such as HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria. Strategically, we encourage global health partnerships by working hand-in-hand with leading organizations that best address these issues in developing nations.
Hope Through Healing Hands has invested more than $3.5 million in charities in both the United States and abroad. These investments have been in support of infrastructure, sustainable health development, education, healthcare, and emergency relief. This assistance has primarily focused on HIV/AIDS, but HTHH has also contributed to projects ranging from Hurricane Katrina to health education in Africa.
We sponsor young health professionals, including students, residents, and fellows, to participate in our Frist Global Health Leaders program to travel to underserved areas around the world to provide health care to communities and clinical settings. The students spend up to a semester focusing on service to those in need and training community health workers.
With over 70 nonprofit organizations, universities, and churches, we proudly lead the Tennessee Global Health Coalition, a robust networking system for better efficiency of programs through partnerships and support. We sponsor bi-annual meetings to provide a deliberate social space for these global health leaders in our community to build relationships with one another.