Dr. Kev – From INMED To Asia

October 30th, 2015 by Nicholas Comninellis
Posted in Global Health News & Inspiration, INMED Grads In Action|



A most heartening feature of international health care is the outstanding character of individuals thus engaged. Please let me introduce you to Dr. Kev. As a family medicine resident at Via Christi Medical Center in Wichita, Dr. Kev earned the INMED Diploma in International Medicine & Public Health, which included his supervised service-learning at a health care facility in SE Asia. Kev went on to complete the Via Christi International Medicine Fellowship, which also encompassed field experience in southern Africa.


Building upon this rich professional training and his own deep spiritual confidence, Kev is now moving to a career position again in Asia, accompanied by wife and children. This particular nation must go unnamed but is home to an extreme number of people who by no choice of their own must dwell in slums. “Over the years,” says Dr. Kevin, “I’ve enjoyed the privilege of serving the medical needs of those in the most desperate of conditions. Now I’m joyfully anticipating that privilege once again.”


Do you know someone engaged in a similar lifestyle and career tract? Please join me in affirming people like Dr. Kevin who express their virtuous nature through quite intentionally offering compassion and action on behalf of the world’s most poor.


International Public Health – In Your Future?

October 23rd, 2015 by Nicholas Comninellis
Posted in INMED Action Steps For You|



This week I am in Glendale CA, near Los Angeles, for the in-classroom section of the INMED International Public Health Hybrid Course. International public health is one of the most inspiring of fields, for its objective is prevention disease and disability among our world’s most vulnerable people. Whenever we speak of eliminating polio, combating HIV/AIDS, ending hunger, preventing malaria, providing safe drinking water, or discovering a better vaccine against tuberculosis we are actually describing the very objectives within international public health.


Could such a career path be part of your future? Consider the background of participants in our current INMED Course. Jane Im (back row, far left) is a nurse practitioner at Los Angeles Christian Health Centers, a safety net clinic for the city’s most at-risk people. William Cornell (back row, second from left) is a physician-attorney advocate in medical education. Patricia Salkey (front row, second from left) is an RN at Glendale Adventist Medical Center. Karine Chung (front row, far right) is a pharmacy student at University of the Pacific.


What these diverse individuals all have in common is an uncommon intention to promote the health of vulnerable communities around the globe. Could you see yourself among them? Could international public health be in your own future?

Where The Doctor Comes To You?

October 17th, 2015 by Nicholas Comninellis
Posted in Global Health News & Inspiration, INMED Action Steps For You, INMED Training Sites In Action|



Healthcare ideally accommodates to the needs of the people being served. In actual practice the opposite is often true. This ideal nevertheless remains a guiding precept of the Liaoning International General Health Trainers (LIGHT) of NE China. I’m enjoying the privilege of my fifth winter among them. This photo captures a LIGHT physician offering consultation to a very low-income person in rural China.


Sure service is not easy. The weather is cold. Driving distances are great. Onsite medical resources (lab, imaging, pharmacy)  are minimal. And some person’s diseases are beyond LIGHT’s capability to intervene. In spite of these limitations, compassion and care are quite intentionally offered to those who are separated by the chasms of climate, geography, assets, and “therapeutic outcomes.” Would you like to experience healthcare guided by such ideals amid the very real obstacles present in China, Africa, or even the United States. I would enjoy the opportunity to speak with you about how this is doable via the INMED Diploma in International Pubic Health or INMED Diploma in International Medicine & Public Health


Nobel Prize For Combating Parasitic Diseases

October 9th, 2015 by Nicholas Comninellis
Posted in Global Health News & Inspiration, INMED Action Steps For You, Uncategorized|



In recent years the annual Nobel Prize in Medicine has focused on awards for high-tech applications; like development of CT imaging and mapping of the human genome. This year’s Nobel Prize shines light in a distinctly different arena: advances against some leading diseases of extreme poverty.


In 1985 I first traveled to Niger and Burkina Faso – nations in West Africa – where I cared for older men and women plagued by River Blindness. This tiny worm infestation is transmitted by the bite of black flies that inhabit flowing steams. The worms multiply by the trillions within human bodies, causing kidney failure, unrelenting itching, and vision loss. But today West Africa is experiencing relief from River Blindness, thanks to the pioneering discovery of the drug avermectin by William C. Campbell and Satoshi Omura.


In 1989 I first traveled to Angola, where everyday I treated children who often died from malaria. Standard chloroquine drug therapy was often ineffective, but the alternative, quinine, brought with it a host of adverse effects. Today malaria throughout the world is treated with a artemisinin, a much safer and more effective agent uncovered by Youyou Tu.


Do you have a research interest? Progress against today’s other diseases of extreme poverty will require intelligent, innovative, dedicated scientists. Our world is in desperate need a more effective vaccine again tuberculosis, a better treatment for Chaga’s disease (trypansomiasis), and point-of-care rapid diagnostic tests. Through such advances you may become recognized as a Noble recipient. Moreover, you will be a blessing to innumerable people who will never enjoy the privilege of thanking you.

INMED Welcomes New Faculty: Paul Larson

October 2nd, 2015 by Nicholas Comninellis
Posted in Global Health News & Inspiration, INMED Action Steps For You|



Students in the 2015 Pittsburgh PA INMED International Medicine & Public Health Course – which begins on Monday – will enjoy the privilege of being mentored by INMED’s newest faculty: Paul Larson. Qualifications for this position are rigorous, and Dr. Larson’s credits are equally laudable. Following family medicine residency and a diploma earned from the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, Paul and Alysia Larson move to Kenya’s Kapsowar Hospital at the invitation of the Africa Inland Church. For two years they integrated themselves into rural Kenyan society, caring for their sick, partnering in community development, and raising their own five children.


Much like myself, Paul Larson possesses a special passion for enabling healthcare personnel to pursue their dreams of service. Upon returning to the USA, he completed graduate studies in medical education and a fellowship in faculty development. Today Dr. Larson is director of Global Health Education at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center’s St. Margaret Family Medicine Residency. He also continues to rigorously apply his teaching skills by supervising INMED Diploma students at the Baptist Medical Center in northern Ghana, and more recently, by mentoring INMED International Medicine & Public Health Course students.


Whether by personal example or by instruction and supervision, Paul Larson casts an enticing vision for globally minded healthcare leaders. We are overjoyed and honored he has joined the INMED Team!

Mark And Angie Byler – Proving That Lives Matter

September 25th, 2015 by Nicholas Comninellis
Posted in Global Health News & Inspiration, INMED Action Steps For You|



To where could a short-term international healthcare experience ultimately take you? Please consider the inspiring lives of Mark & Angie Byler. As a medical student, Mark studied hospital medicine for a few weeks in Kenya. Later, Mark and I were on faculty together at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, where he met Angie and volunteered periodically in Zimbabwe, Southern Africa. Mark told me, “Those people are important. And I’m going to prove it.”


In 2004 Mark and Angie did just that by moving their home, along with son Luke, to Sanyati Baptist Hospital in southern Africa. Zimbabwe, once the most prosperous nation in Africa, today is rated as having the worst quality of life of any nation on our planet. Twenty percent of the Zimbabwe’s people are HIV positive, and half of all patients admitted to Sanyati Baptist Hospital are HIV infected. In spite of these odds, Dr. Byler for the next ELEVEN YEARS served as a leader in providing HIV therapy and managing the complications of opportunistic infections associated with HIV, including profound malnutrition, tuberculosis, and PCP pneumonia.


Today Mark Byler is a faculty physician with INMED, instructing students in the International Medicine & Public Health Course. Take advantage any opportunity to become acquainted with Dr. Byler and those of his caliber for whom the world is no barrier to affirm that, indeed, all lives matter.

Beauty From Ashes – An INMED Inspiration

September 18th, 2015 by Nicholas Comninellis
Posted in Global Health News & Inspiration|



Oh the power of parents! Once when I was about eight years old I went  grocery shopping with my parents. It was a Friday afternoon, the time when we usually stocked up for our weekend trip to the Lake of the Ozarks. But unlike normal shopping trips, my parents were purchasing very unusual items: towels, silverware, bed sheets, lots of canned goods, and even a toaster. I protested, “But Dad, we’ve already got this stuff!” Dad just smiled and commented, “You’ll see, son.”


From the store, instead of driving to the lake we drove directly to the town dump located on the edge of the Missouri River. Now I really felt bewildered! Dad pulled the car to a stop in front of a burned-out trailer home. It still smelt of fresh soot, and whips of smoke rose from where the bedroom used to be.


From a tent pitched next to the trailer emerged an elderly couple, looking exhausted and anxious. I recognized them. They were the people who ran the dump! I remembered the story, too, that my dad told me just that morning. These were the ruins of the couple’s home where my dad, a volunteer firefighter, had battled a blaze just the night before. Mom and Dad opened the car trunk and started unloading our gifts of food and other essentials. With tears in their eyes, the surprised couple eagerly received our gifts.


Herein was a beautiful gift for me, as well: a real life demonstration of commitment love. As I remember my father’s passing just three weeks ago I’m touched over how such formative moments during my childhood contributed to the concepts that grew into INMED today.

Danny Estévão Bring Vision To Life – Angola 2015

September 11th, 2015 by Nicholas Comninellis
Posted in 2015 Angola, Global Health News & Inspiration, INMED Training Sites In Action|



Lubango Evangelical Medical Center was for decades only a dream in the hearts of Pastor José Abias, Dr. Stephen Foster, and leaders of the Angolan Association of Evangelicals. The vision was substantial: within Africa’s poorest nation to create a center of healthcare and compassion. In 2006, with significant backing from Franklin Graham and Samaritan’s Purse, the center was founded. CEML – as it is know in Portuguese – offers daily outpatient clinic, emergency care, maternity, surgical center, inpatient care, and even housing for out-of-town patients and families. CEML is also an INMED Training Site.


These are all highly visible elements of CEML. What is less apparent is the man who maintains CEML’s daily operation. Please let me introduce Danny Estévão. “I was a businessman with no experience in medicine,” Danny told me just last week. “But in 2004 I learned of this vision for CEML and was convinced to apply whatever skill I posses to bringing this vision to life.” And this Danny has pursued with excellence and endurance.


Managing an organization like CEML is of necessity extraordinarily complex. Human resources, budgeting, accounting, facility maintenance, government relations, donor associations, supplies acquisition, marketing, patient satisfaction, even my visa processing – all rely upon Danny’s expertise. “I am recipient of the care and compassion of Jesus,” says Danny. ”How could I do anything less but facilitate these mercies towards my fellow Angolan people?”


I’m Coughing Blood Again – Angola 2015

September 4th, 2015 by Nicholas Comninellis
Posted in 2015 Angola, Global Health News & Inspiration, INMED Action Steps For You|



“I’m coughing blood again.” Moses gasped for breath, his chest muscles visibly contracting with each respiration. The starved figure of this man of twenty-six bespoke of profound malnutrition, infirmity, or both. His chest examination revealed distant, wet sounds divulging deep infection and his chest X-ray… Lacking an adequate view box, I’m here holding the film up to the sky. The white circle, where the clouds appear, is a density caused by pneumonia, abscess or cancer.


As our conversation continued I discovered the Moses was diagnosed with tuberculosis a year earlier. He began taking the appropriate treatment and within four weeks felt fine. Then like so frequently occurs Moses stopped his intended six-month treatment course. Now his infection was back, likely resistant to the original medications, and much more difficult to treat.


TB is the most common infection afflicting humans. One-third of all people on earth are infected. If we focus outside of Europe and North America, fully one-half of the world’s population is TB-positive. What can possibly be done on behalf of people like Moses? Current medications usually work. But they often require coaching to assure that people finish the treatment course. Healthcare professional need to assure such coaching. There exists a TB vaccine. But it is only marginally effective. Do you have a research interest? Pioneering develop of a superior TB vaccine holds promise to protect people like Moses in every nation.

Mother And Newborn In Peril – Angola 2015

August 28th, 2015 by Nicholas Comninellis
Posted in 2015 Angola, INMED Action Steps For You|



“I’m in labor, and the umbilical cord just fell out.” Utterly frightened, the mother Gilhermina approached the home of Donna Foster on a ranch here in rural Angola. Within moments, Donna and teenage daughter Meghan, loaded Gilhermina in their truck and began the 110 mile drive to us at the Evangelical Medical Center of Lubango. Once in range, I received her slightly distraught phone call. “Put your hand on the baby’s head and push upwards, “I advised. “This can relieve compression on the cord and increase blood flow to baby.”


Pregnant women like Gilhermina and their newborns are particularly vulnerable . The hours of labor, delivery, first breaths, and transition to exterior life hold a minefield of potential complications. Provision of at least a basic level of skilled care is lifesaving. With this objective in focus, INMED just added new Maternal-Newborn Health content to our International Medicine & Public Health Hybrid Course.


Despite Donna and Meghan’s heroic actions, Gilhermina’s child suffocated before arrival. And around the globe such save-able birth complications occur thousands of times each day. My dear hope is that armed with essential mother-newborn skills, even the most humble healthcare personnel will be more immediately available to preserve these vulnerable lives.