2017 INMED Humanitarian Health Conference

May 27th, 2016 by Nicholas Comninellis
Posted in Global Health News & Inspiration, INMED Action Steps For You|

2017 HHC Image


At this moment 400+ individuals and 28 exhibiting organizations are taking part in the 11th annual INMED Exploring Medical Missions Conference. When first conceived in 2006, this event was primarily intended to bring together well-meaning volunteers with sending organizations, most often for shorter-term commitments. Since that time, the developments within INMED and the healthcare professions have shifted focus toward longer-term personal investments and toward those health interventions that are more comprehensive and potentially sustainable in nature.


In step with these developments, we at INMED are pleased to announce the new identity of this event: the INMED Humanitarian Health Conference. Look for the 2017 event to be inclusive of all healthcare professions, interactive and personal in nature, and populated by both inspired individuals and inspirational organizations. Given the previous frequent overlap with graduation events, the INMED Humanitarian Health Conference  will also be earlier in the year: Friday and Saturday morning, March 24-25, 2017. Please save the dates and join us!

Tomorrows International Health Volunteers

May 20th, 2016 by Nicholas Comninellis
Posted in Global Health News & Inspiration|



What do you want to do with your life? Let me introduce you to some who already know: The 200 graduate and undergrad students, photographed here at the event, who received scholarships to participate in this year’s INMED Exploring Medical Missions Conference.


One is Jordan Crawford, whom I originally met through Joe White of Kanakuk Kamps. “As Joe and I talked about medicine, missions, purpose,” says Jordan, “Joe was convinced that he needed to connect us. He briefly told me about INMED I was more than intrigued to learn more.”


My extreme gratitude goes out to the fifty-two individuals who provided funding – and the associated vision-casting – for these students. I hope you’ll save the dates of March 24-25 to join INMED again for our 2017 event: the INMED Humanitarian Health Conference.


Kim & Ted Higgins – 2016 INMED Award For Compassionate Service To Humanity Recipients

May 13th, 2016 by Nicholas Comninellis
Posted in Global Health News & Inspiration|

higgins-ted-kimThis award was established by the INMED Board of Directors to recognize people who demonstrate care and concern for those in need, who give selflessly of their time and resources, and who inspire others to take similar action. The 2016 INMED Award For Compassionate Service To Humanity Recipients are Kim & Ted Higgins.


As a general surgery resident at Yale University, Ted leaped at the opportunity to serve under mentors for six months at Hospital Albert Schweitzer in Haiti. Inspired through that experience, Ted and his wife, Kim, embarked on a twenty-five-year schedule of providing surgical care in Haiti and Dominican Republic – a pattern of service that continues even today. With the vision of further expanding continuity care for residents of these nations, the Higgins mastermined and funded establishment of the Higgins Brothers Surgical Center in partnership with Haiti Christian Missions. With a parallel vision of inspiring future international healthcare volunteers, the Higgins have both funded and provided their expertise for the INMED conference event since its inception.

Tom Kettler – 2016 INMED National Healthcare Service Award Recipient

May 6th, 2016 by Nicholas Comninellis
Posted in Global Health News & Inspiration, INMED Training Sites In Action|

kettler-tomMany health care professionals within their own nations are sacrificing personal comfort in order to care for their neglected neighbors. The award recipients listed below are role models in providing health care for their own people. The Institute for International Medicine is touched to announce the 2016 INMED National Healthcare Service Award Recipient: Tom Kettler.


Known to hundreds of patients in Stanley, Kansas, as a quality family physician, Dr. Kettler has remained unswerving in his commitment to Kansas City’s most needy populous: those residing in the urban core. There was once no primary care facility available in the immediate neighborhood – a particular obstacle for the numerous patients without transportation. After years of vision casting and overcoming financial challenges, in 2009 Dr. Kettler saw his vision birthed into reality with the formal opening of Hope Family Care Clinic (HFCC) at 3027 Prospect Ave.


But the young HFCC required nurturing. For two years Dr. Kettler himself staffed the clinic part-time on top of his normal medical responsibilities in Stanley. This year when HFCC became under staffed he again returned to this role. Says Kettler, “My Christian faith was primary in my pursuit of a medical career. I enjoy helping others and the challenge of solving problems. Medicine is a great field for life-long learning and service to others.”


Hunger Games: Starvation And Hope In Syria

April 29th, 2016 by Nicholas Comninellis
Posted in Global Health News & Inspiration, INMED Action Steps For You|



Just yesterday our United Nations humanitarian leader disclosed how hunger is being used as a subjugation tactic in the Syrian conflicts. “Current levels of access leave civilians starving and without medical care,” declares Stephen O’Brien, who points out the deliberate theft of food and medical supplies from what few relief convoys are permitted into cities under siege like Aleppo and Madaya. Compounding aid efforts are repeated military attacks on relief workers, including 60 people were killed today in Aleppo in when an MSF hospital was targeted.


Indeed, hunger and illness impair resistance against aggression. But what about the power of hope? This year’s Exploring Medical Missions Conference theme is The Evidence Behind Medical Missions. My keynote address will celebrate the courageous and merciful actions of individuals like Lani Ackerman in Nepal, John Zhangpeng in China, and Howard Searle in India. I’ll also recognize today’s bold acts of compassion by Heart To Heart International, Medical Missions Foundation, and Kansas City’s own Hope Family Care Center.


Best of all, this event is your opportunity to step into a role in ending the hunger games being played out around the globe. The evidence behind medical missions could actually include you.


Scott Kujath – 2016 INMED International Medicine Award Recipient

April 22nd, 2016 by Nicholas Comninellis
Posted in Global Health News & Inspiration|

kujath-scottThis award recognizes an individual who has made a significant contribution to health in developing nations. Award recipients have demonstrated uncommon dedication and endurance in pursuit of this cause. The Institute for International Medicine is overjoyed to announce the 2016 INMED International Medicine Award Recipient: Scott Kujath.


Well known in Kansas City as an exceptional vascular surgeon, Dr. Kujath’s service reaches beyond the city’s borders. In cooperation with First Baptist Church of Raytown, Missouri, he leads the Mission of Hope Clinic, providing primary medical care and dental care to the region’s most under resourced people.


Dr Kujath also consistently serves in eastern Africa, both in providing direct medical care as well as pioneering in the innovative field of hospice and palliative care in connection with The Living Room, who provides quality of life for Kenyans affected by HIV-AIDS and other life-threatening illnesses. Casting an effective vision for others to follow, Dr. Kujath has  generous supported student scholarships for the INMED Conference since 2013.


Howard Searle – 2016 INMED Cross-Cultural Healthcare Leadership Award Recipient

April 15th, 2016 by Nicholas Comninellis
Posted in Global Health News & Inspiration, INMED Training Sites In Action|

searle-howardThis award recognizes one who has made significant leadership contributions to bridging cultural gaps in healthcare services and has set an example for other leaders to emulate. The Institute for International Medicine is very proud to honor the 2016 INMED Cross-Cultural Healthcare Leadership Award Recipient: Howard Searle.


In 1965 – fully fifty-one years ago – this Canadian surgeon was on his way to Mukinge Hospital in Zambia with AEF – Africa Evangelical Fellowship. Discerning that Mukinge was too well-established for his intentions, Dr. Searle instead turned towards the unique needs of India. In 1965 the Indian government began rejecting visa requests of US healthcare personnel. But Canadians still enjoyed ready access.


In the critical years between 1969 and 74, Dr. Searle was part of the innovative team of Indian leaders who guided Emmanuel Hospital Association (EHA) from reliance on international staff and donors to becoming entirely self-sufficient. Since then, EHA has grown to become the world’s largest indigenous medical mission; self-governed, self-funded, and self-staff. Dr. Searle continued serving at their side until 2005, when he retired to become Executive Director of EHA’s United States affiliate, a role in which he continues to serve today.

Impending Catastrophe: Collapse Of Mosul Dam

April 8th, 2016 by Nicholas Comninellis
Posted in Global Health News & Inspiration, International Public Health|



ISIS poses violent threat to life and liberty. This is well known. CNN in December 2015 estimated that over a two-year period ISIS killed some 1,200 people in Iraq and Syria. But another far greater threat looms: Collapse Of Mosul Dam. Built on the Tigris River in the early 1980s, the unstable ground underneath the dam is constantly eroded by water. For years this has required maintenance by continuously poured cement under the dam’s foundation. Mosul Dam was captured by ISIS militants on August, 2014, and held it for several weeks before recapture. But for the last two years required reinforcement of the foundation continues to be sub par, in particular because ISIS still controls parts of that region.


Remember learning about the Fertile Crescent in grade school? This is exactly the region at risk. Downstream from Mosul Dam is a rich agricultural zone, home to some 1.5 million people, the city of Mosul, population 700,000. “If the dam fails, it will be catastrophic,” Gen. Lloyd Austin III told the Senate Armed Services Committee. “There will be thousands of people downstream that will either be injured or killed, certainly displaced. And the damage could extend all the way down to — close to Baghdad, or into Baghdad,” lying 200 miles to the south.


Disaster response is an intriguing topic. Some of the allure is similar to that of emergency medicine: action, heroism, immediate results, drama in real life. Disaster risk mitigation, like preventive medicine, lacks the immediate sense of passion and urgency. And it holds promise to preserve not only one thousand lives, but one million.


Eager To Assist: Kurds Welcome People Fleeing ISIS

April 1st, 2016 by Nicholas Comninellis
Posted in Global Health News & Inspiration, International Public Health|



From the highest point in Duhok – northern Iraq’s and Kurdistan’s largest city – I am viewing the city of Mosul just 40 miles to the south. Mosul fell to ISIS 21 months ago, and the status of Mosul citizens is illustrated by the vast tent cities which lie between Mosul and Duhok. Tens of thousand reside in these camps: Iraqi Kurds fleeing the conflict in Mosul, Syrians fleeing the conflict in their homeland, and Iraqi minorities – including  Orthodox, Catholics, and the ethnic Yazidi photographed here.


What quality of response are these individuals and families receiving in Duhok from Iraqi Kurds? In a word: heartwarming. My personal interaction here with Kurdish officials, pastors, and healthcare professionals confirms a united spirit of compassion and action on behalf of refugees and IDPs (Internally Displaced Persons). Housing, food, clothing, schools, language training, healthcare, assist with locating relatives, and even legal aid for asylum seekers is provided in Kurdistan. Why is the attitude of the Kurds so very different from that of individuals in other regions, including many in the United States?


A glimpse of Kurdish history reveals an important clue: they are a people who themselves have repeatedly been suppressed and persecuted. I discern that as a result of their own sufferings the Kurds as a people have become more compassionate toward those seeking their assist.  Herein could lie what lesson for the rest of us?

Richard Randolph – 2016 INMED Humanitarian Crisis Response Award Recipient

March 25th, 2016 by Nicholas Comninellis
Posted in Global Health News & Inspiration, INMED Grads In Action|

Randolph-This award recognizes individuals and organizations who that provide exemplary disaster response services for highly vulnerable communities. In doing so, they accentuate the value of life and provide an exemplary model for us all. The Institute for International Medicine is excited to recognize Richard Randolph via the 2016 INMED Humanitarian Crisis Response Award.


Dr. Randolph is a family physician from the Kansas City area who first distinguished himself as a West Point Military Academy graduate, adding credentials including the INMED Academic Qualification in International Medicine & Public Health and appointed Medical Officer for Joint Special Operations Command at Fort Bragg. In 2015 Dr. Randolph became Chief Medical Officer for Heart to Heart International, and immediately shipped out to Liberia. On location at the Tappita Ebola Treatment Unit he served afflicted people for six months – just one of his extended deployments since 1993 providing healthcare in seven different nations. Today he diligently applies his hard-won insight through scaling up preparedness capability among hundreds of dedicated disaster responders.