65 Million People: Displaced But Not Forgotten

September 29th, 2016 by Nicholas Comninellis
Posted in Disaster Management, Global Health News & Inspiration|



Today 1 human in every 113 is a victim of forced displacement. In fact, today’s wars and persecution have driven more people from their homes than at that at any time since WWII. The UN Refugee Agency report, Global Trends, documents how 65.3 million people were displaced at the end of 2015, compared to 59.5 million in 2014. This translates into 24 people abandoning their homes and running for their lives each minute 2015, compared just 6 people in 2005. How many people is this? More than the sum population of Australia, Canada, and New Zealand.


“At sea, a frightening number of refugees and migrants are dying each year. On land, people fleeing war are finding their way blocked by closed borders,” declares Filippo Grandi, UN High Commissioner for Refugees. Why this continued sharp rise in displaced persons? UNHCR cites Somalia and Afghanistan’s 30-40 year of ongoing conflict, as well as more acute wars in Syria, South Sudan, Ukraine and Central African Republic, and even violence in Central America.


What should be our response? First, tract the developments and talk them up with your friends, because more is at stake than football or the White House. Second, consider volunteering your time and talent through any number of fine refugee aid associations, such as the International Refugee Assistance Project and the International Rescue Committee. And join us on March 24-25 for the INMED Humanitarian Health Conference, where you can personally engage leaders who take to heart the admonition of Matthew 25, “I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me. Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.”


MacArthur Foundation and Emergency Medical Teams

September 23rd, 2016 by Nicholas Comninellis
Posted in Disaster Management|



The world-wide health and disaster response community agree: management of the Haiti earthquake, Indian Ocean tsunami, and West Africa Ebola epidemic was poor. In answer, the World Health Organization has established new standards for international Emergency Medical Teams (EMTs) to ensure a credible global health emergency workforce for future Public Health Emergencies of International Concern. So far, neither the US government nor large-capacity US based NGOs have trained up to these standards, essentially sidelining our nation from future humanitarian response participation.


Today the Institute for International Medicine today proposes to the MacArthur Foundation a grant request lead an initiative to thoroughly train and credential US-based EMTs capable of rapid deployment and effective humanitarian service conforming to today’s standards. INMED’s fourteen-years’ experience and our association with major institutions (including Harvard Humanitarian Initiative, Massachusetts General Hospital Global Disaster Response, Heart to Heart International) give INMED the capacity to achieve this complex and urgent endeavor.


Harvard’s Massachusetts General Hospital Hosts INMED

September 16th, 2016 by Nicholas Comninellis
Posted in Global Health News & Inspiration, Healthcare Education|



This week INMED graduated our first students from Harvard’s Massachusetts General Hospital, whose Global Disaster Response department hosted the International Medicine & Public Health Hybrid Course. Seventeen participated in ten weeks of structured online study, and then gathered today in Boston for three days hand-on patient care, disaster triage, and community health survey skills. These not only can’t be mastered online, but the opportunity for persons of such high vision and caliber to meet one another is priceless.


Kerrie Flynn is a nurse practitioner a Mass General Hospital. She writes, “My whole career I’ve wanted to empowering others to assist their own with new tools and to support populations in need. I really enjoyed the course and how you have put together the online delivery. Mostly this is a thank you for this super program. I’m applying to the full INMED Diploma program, and in the future to find a way to contribute to these resource poor communities again”


“What Is Aleppo?”

September 9th, 2016 by Nicholas Comninellis
Posted in Disaster Management, Global Health News & Inspiration, INMED Action Steps For You|



This week the presidential candidate of a well-known United States political party was asked their plan for Aleppo. In response, the candidate replied, “What is Aleppo?” Shocking, but not at all surprising. Today Americans are consumed with the season football kickoff, Halloween planning, and the back-to-school rush. None of these activities carry any maleficence. But meanwhile, above, citizens in the besieged Syrian city of Aleppo line up for bread.


Dr. Samer Attar is a Chicago-based orthopedic surgeon serving in the embattled city of Aleppo. “People are running out of fresh fruit and meat. Hospitals and their staff are exhausted,” he told NBC News. The entire city “is going to be bombed and starved to death … unless the international community acts.”


What can you and I do about this ongoing humanitarian calamity? First, we can easily tract and stay informed of the developments in Aleppo. Second, we can contact our Senators and press for an urgent political solution. Third, we can contribute to reputable relief organizations serving in Syria. And finally, take advantage of your personal opportunity to meet someone intimately involved in caring for those afflicted by the war in Syria. Lawand Talal, of the UN High Commission for Refugees, will be a featured speaker at next year’s INMED Humanitarian Health Conference, March 24-25 in Kansas City. Through steps like these, may we all know full well what is Aleppo.



Sustainability Vs. Urgent Utility

September 2nd, 2016 by Nicholas Comninellis
Posted in Global Health News & Inspiration|



“Our international partner organization has been heavily funding our health projects, even purchasing medications and fuel to power our water wells, but the entire health ministry is on hard times nevertheless.” My colleagues in southern Africa continue, “As the national economy goes, so goes life for us all. And at this moment, both are spiraling downward.”


What’s this? An outside organization funding ongoing healthcare year after year in a developing nation? Isn’t such a practice antithetical to all the principles of sustainability, self-sufficiency, and independence – precepts held so dearly and preached so emphatically by we in the international health community?


The reality is that sustainability must constantly be balanced with urgent utility; the commitment to principle held in check by the needs of the moment. When a child is thirsty and dehydrated, for example, shall we in healthcare say, “I apologize that we can’t give you water. We’ve no money for diesel to pump from our wells, and we refuse to accept available outside donations because it’s against our ethics.” May it never be that a child is turned away thirsty when we have a solution, even a temporary one, that can preserve her life today.


Monday Begins INMED’s 25th International Medicine And Public Health Course

August 19th, 2016 by Nicholas Comninellis
Posted in INMED Action Steps For You|



A dearth of accessible international health academic resources existed when we launched INMED in 2003. Sure, one who attend the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine & Hygiene. But this required tens of thousands of dollars, plus six months living in the UK. Therefore, one of our first INMED priorities was to create quality, low-cost, readily accessible academic learning opportunities to complement the field experiences we already offered in developing nations.


First we introduced the INMED Self-Paced Courses in the major global health subjects. Under Micah Flint’s inspiration  we consolidated these into the comprehensive INMED International Medicine & Public Health Course, launched in 2009. Since then, some 450 individuals have earned the INMED Academic Qualification in International Public Health or the  INMED Academic Qualification in International Medicine & Public Health. And, the courses are now available at academic centers in Los Angeles, Long Island, Pittsburgh, Kansas City, Dallas/Fort Worth, and China.


Monday begins our 25th offering of the INMED International Medicine & Public Health Course, hosted by AT Still University at Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine. Matt Cook was a student in the 2015 course, and via Facebook penned this glowing recommendation for his classmates. Thanks Matt!

INMED Counts By The Numbers

August 12th, 2016 by Nicholas Comninellis
Posted in INMED Action Steps For You|



We at INMED are all about personal accounts. We emphasize stories both of people in great need who are assisted with compassion and expertise, and people whose lives are transformed through personal sacrifice and service on behalf of our world’s most impoverished. Just consider for a moment the experience of Scott Biggerstaff, INMED student serving in Uganda this summer.


Numbers also help to communicate the extent of personal accounts. Since 2004…

• 4417 have participated in an INMED Humanitarian Health or Exploring Medical Missions Conference

• 1079 took part in an INMED Cross-Cultural Health or Disaster Management Symposium

• 442 graduated with an INMED Diploma or Certificate, including serious service among the poor

• 500 took part in an INMED Hybrid or Intensive Course

• 235 became Helping Babies Breathe Facilitators

• 114 participated in an INMED Ultrasound for Primary Care Course

• 449 took advantage of an INMED Self-Paced Online Course


Each number represents real people, both those served and those who are serving. Scott Biggerstaff helps us all to keep this truth at the forefront: “I cared for a patient on Friday with AIDS and pneumonia, and today I evaluated a stroke patient and an AIDS/tuberculosis patient with a spontaneous pneumothorax. Sick dudes. The ‘normal’ pathology out here is stuff fit for case reports in medical journals. I have just a few days left – hopefully tomorrow I’ll be able to join the community team and see some of the pubic health (disease prevention) outreach activities.”


Teaching Excels Your Profession

August 5th, 2016 by Nicholas Comninellis
Posted in Healthcare Education|



Does teaching help health-care professionals be better practitioners? Subjectively, most would agree this is true. But until now, few studies have provided a research basis for this assertion.


Research recently published in Medical Teacher set out to test this proposition using multi-source feedback (MSF) from large groups of diverse healthcare professionals. MSF data for 1831 family physicians, 1510 medical specialists, and 542 surgeons was obtained from physicians’ medical colleagues, co-workers (example: nurses, pharmacists), and patients, and evaluated in relation to information about these physician’s teaching activities – including proportion of time spent teaching during patient care and academic appointments.


Multiple statistical measures were used, leading to the observation that higher clinical performance scores were associated with holding any academic appointment, and generally with any time teaching versus no teaching during patient care. This was most evident for data from medical colleagues, where these differences existed across all specialty groups.


The study’s authors concluded that greater teaching was associated with higher clinical performance. “These results,” they wrote, “may support promoting teaching as a method to enhance and maintain high-quality clinical performance.’


These finding also resonate with the well-known ‘Learning Pyramid’ model, which shows that teaching any subject results in an 80% retention rate of the subjects itself – higher than any other common learning activity.


What’s the take away? See one, do one, teach one really does work!


INMED Graduates First Students In China

July 29th, 2016 by Nicholas Comninellis
Posted in Healthcare Education, INMED Training Sites In Action|

2016 Shenyang IMPH Course Participants CMU1


A long-term INMED vision has been to expand our Course offerings to outside of the United States. Over the years South Africa, Australia, and India were considered locales. Last October the prospects brightened when   LIGHT offered to host this complex learning event in the city of Shenyang, NE China. LIGHT has served INMED as a Training Site since 2004.


Given the fact that English is a second language for most students, we doubled the online section of learning from ten weeks up to twenty. Thirty-three students began, and twenty-five successfully completed the INMED International Medicine & Public Health Hybrid Course, which climaxed on July 18-19 with 2 days of in-classroom skills and exams at Shenyang’s China Medical University Number One. How fascinating to see the live cross-cultural interaction of out students from China (10), Africa (10), India (2), and US (3). Several said to me how they especially appreciate receiving feedback on their weekly assignments, which is new in their university experience. Watch for the next INMED Course coming to China later this year.


Chinese Serving The Entire World

July 22nd, 2016 by Nicholas Comninellis
Posted in INMED Grads In Action|



“We Taiwanese are an island people; citizens of the sea. We are comfortable going everywhere.” Let me introduce you to Edgar Wu, here receiving his INMED Academic Qualification in International Medicine & Public Health. Edgar is one of the most fascinating of the thirty-three students to took advantage of this 2016 Course offering in China. Originally from Taiwan, Edgar moved to Beijing seven years ago to pursue medical education. In the process, he not only developed astute clinical skills, he also gain a vision for the entire world – especially those who are impoverished.


China, like the United States, contains regions of profound poverty. But Edgar’s particular passion is to serve those most penniless. In this quest, Edgar has made journeys to western China, the Middle East, and to southern Asia. He’s recently decided to focus his career on providing care in Cambodia – a locale to where he’s been serving with LIGHT, the Liaoning International General Health Trainers. Freshly graduated from INMED, I came across Edgar diligently pursuing his next challenge: mastery of Khmer – the dominate language in Cambodia.