INMED Award Recipient Returns Toward Mosul

May 12th, 2017 by Nicholas Comninellis
Posted in Disaster Management|


Lawand Talal is journeying back into harm’s way. Today the 2017 INMED Compassionate Service to Humanity Award Recipient is departing his post at the University of Missouri and traveling back into our world’s bloodiest conflict: the battle to liberate the city of Mosul from ISIS.


Q: What will be your role back in Iraqi Kurdistan?

A: I will represent disabled refugees in their quest of asylum. International law affords them certain rights, but someone who knows the law must advocate on their behalf.


Q: Will you feel safe being so near to ISIS?

A: In comparison with the civilians living inside of Mosul, I will be very safe. The suffering of these people, under three years of ISIS domination, is unfathomable.


Q: What about the future of your professional career in law?

A: Originally, I intended specialize petroleum business negotiation. However, the horror accompanying crises like these in Syria, Iraq and Sudan now compels me to focus all my energy on safeguarding humanity.


Sustainable Development Goals – Too Many Good Ideas?

May 5th, 2017 by Nicholas Comninellis
Posted in Global Health News & Inspiration|


Over recent decades our world has hosted some remarkable cooperative efforts at increasing the well-being of human kind. The Health for All movement began in 1970s and 80s, emphasized primary healthcare: the provision of essentially health services like nutrition, housing, sanitation and vaccinations. Health for All quite notably emphasized local community responsibility for their own progress.  The Millennium Development Goals highlighted the 2000s, with efforts in eight areas including education, gender equality and environmental sustainability. All in all, the MDGs enjoyed enthusiastic support and measurable success.


What’s next? Today we’re in the era of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals: seventeen “Global Goals” that include 169 sub-targets between them. These have been painstakingly considered and planned by respected global development professionals, and broadly embraced by both governments and NGOs.


But can you name all seventeen? How about just fifty of the sub-targets? Not likely. A commentary in The Economist, for example, argued that 169 SDG targets is too many. The genius of Health for All and the Millennium Development Goals was their simplicity and easy of communication. As our world grapples with cooperative forward progress, let us be vigilant to continue embracing these two proven virtues.


Chris Gifford in Cameroon: INMED Grad in Action

April 28th, 2017 by Nicholas Comninellis
Posted in INMED Grads In Action|


“Chris Gifford spent 2 weeks in Muteghene for a training course called ALSO – Advanced Life Support in Obstetrics. He took the instructor portion first and then taught the course to 30 medical students and midwives the following week.” In so doing, Dr. Gifford – on a two-year medical service stent in Cameroon, West Africa – is expressing two of the highest values in today’s approach to international health development: skill multiplication and sustainability.


Trace the story of Chris’ life and you can understand how he came to embrace such values. Originally from Wichita, Kansas, I met Chris when he was medical student at Kansas City University. In 2012, Chris took advantage of the INMED International Medicine & Public Health Course, and then complete his INMED Diploma in 2013 with his supervised service-learning experience at Baptist Medical Center in Ghana. All the while, Chris, a man of deep Christian faith, was developing a clearer vision of life beyond his three-year family medicine residency.



This vision became reality on the fall of 2016, when Chris, his wife Ashley, and their two children moved to Cameroon to serve at Banso and Mbingo Hospitals through World Medical Mission. Would you like to follow their progress in international health development, and occasionally send an encouraging wave? Please just add your email at Chris and Ashley’s blog page:


My Grandfather Was An IDP

April 21st, 2017 by Nicholas Comninellis
Posted in Disaster Management|

Internally Displaced People (IDPs) are one startling facet of today’s global refugee crisis. Accompanying well recognized conflicts in the Syria, Iraq, and Middle East are lesser known yet equally deadly locals of social strife causing people to flee for safety within their own nations.  In South Sudan it’s civil war, not drought, that’s causing evacuation.  Similar violence in Yemen has so far driven two-thirds of the population to mobilize in search of food and safety. The same pattern of violence is unfolding at this moment is Somalia and Nigeria, where terrorized citizens are walking, running, toward the nearest escape.


Least I be tempted to believe that such distress is far away and isolated on a distant continent, I need only remember my grandfather, Nicholas Comninellis. In 1941, as the Nazi army entered Athens, Nicholas and his wife Helen, along with my uncle Constantine and my father George, desperately scavenged the docks in search of a ship to carry them to safety. Tragically, the last had already departed. A brave sailor in a skiff took heed to my grandfather’s plight and load the little family aboard. Speeding out into the harbor he shouted to the last ship, “Lower the ladder! Lower the ladder!”


My grandfather hoisted his little family up onto that last departing ship, saving their souls from the absolute carnage that shortly befell Athens. They later found refuge on the tiny Greek island of Lemnos, living out the war as internally displaced people similar to those uprooted all around the world today. My grandfather is a reminder to me that these Syrians, Iraqis, Sudanese, and Nigerians are IDPs not so dissimilar from you and me.


Pam Franks – 2017 INMED Cross-Cultural Healthcare Service Award Recipient

April 14th, 2017 by Nicholas Comninellis
Posted in Global Health News & Inspiration|

This award recognizes one who demonstrates care and concern for cultural diverse communities and who gives selflessly of time and resources for their benefit.


Pam Franks, RN BSN, began serious cross-cultural endeavors when she and her husband moved to Guatemala. During their five-year residency, she helped lead the medical care of a large Christian organization, which included clinics in remote parts of the country. Back home in Omaha, Pam launched Embrace the Nations in 2009, an organization focused on assisting refugees from Somalia, Sudan, Burundi, Bhutan and Burma. Pam and her team provide English language learning, life skills like vehicle maintenance and parenting, and assisting their children with tutoring and school success. Pam’s insight and vision is broadly respected, and she’s consistently called upon to lead cross-cultural skills training for nursing and medical students, churches and businesses, service organizations, and law enforcement officers.


Greg Seager – 2017 INMED Cross-Cultural Healthcare Leadership Award Recipient

April 8th, 2017 by Nicholas Comninellis
Posted in Global Health News & Inspiration|

This award recognizes those who have made significant leadership contributions to bridging cultural gaps in healthcare services and have set an example for other leaders to emulate.


Greg Seager, RN MSN, and his wife, Candi, first became involved in cross-cultural healthcare when invited by their home church. Moving up quickly in leadership, they were soon overseeing six to eight medical teams to Haiti each year. Later they became full-time staff with Mercy Ships, where part of Greg’s role involved Implementing Integrated Management of Childhood Illness (IMCI) protocols, and program evaluation. Greg’s critique of international healthcare is best embodied in his book, When Healthcare Hurts: An Evidence Based Guide for Best Practices in Global Health Initiatives. In 2010, Greg and Candi launched a new healthcare sending organization to embody these innovations. Christian Health Service Corps today empowers fifty full-time personnel serving in fifteen developing nations.


China: INMED Launches Advanced Family Physician Training

March 31st, 2017 by Nicholas Comninellis
Posted in INMED Action Steps For You|


China’s medical system was built around care by subspecialists: cardiologists managing hypertension, endocrinologists overseeing diabetes mellitus, gastroenterologist treating GERD. Like the United States in the 1970s and 80s, China’s policy makers today recognize the profound inefficiencies of this organ-system approach to medicine. While a small percentage of patients do indeed need the expertise of a subspecialist, the great majority of people can receive quality care by a family or primary care physician at a fraction of the cost and without fragmentation between multiple providers. What’s more, those who reside in physician-sparse locals (urban core and rural settings) often have no subspecialist availability.


This month INMED launches Advanced Family Physician Training in China. In response to China’s Rural Health Initiative, and in cooperating with Liaoning International General Health Trainers (LIGHT), INMED offers a hybrid course to augment the skill and vision of physicians who serve China’s more marginalized citizens. The ten-week online section of study updates cognitive comprehension of chronic disease management, personal health behavior, maternal and newborn care, health maintenance, and medical ethics, and health systems. The in-classroom section that follows upgrades skills in health counseling, newborn resuscitation, diagnostic ultrasound, and community health assessment.


Enrollment is now open for INMED launches Advanced Family Physician Training in China. But you need not be Chinese to join. This course is taught in English in Shenyang, northeastern China, and available to international healthcare personnel, too. In fact, INMED’s 2016 course in China drew participants from eight nations. Would you like to meet with us in China for a virtuous pursuit?


Lawand Talal, 2017 Award for Compassionate Service to Humanity Recipient

March 24th, 2017 by Nicholas Comninellis
Posted in Global Health News & Inspiration|

This 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.


Compassion is at the center of Lawand Talal’s professional life. This American-trained Kurdish attorney abandoned a lucrative career to instead join the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees of behalf of Syrians searching for asylum in Iraqi Kurdistan. Refugees include the entire spectrum of humanity. Disabled Syrian refugees are Lawand’s specialty, bringing to bear the principles of international law on behalf of those afflicted by cerebral palsy, learning disorders, schizophrenia, paraplegia; in short, people who are the least capable of defending themselves. “We Kurds are a persecuted people, condemned for centuries by foreign lords,” proclaims Lawand Talal. “So, when Syrians fleeing utter terror from ISIS arrive at our borders how can we not but respond with compassion?”


Haitian Christian Mission, 2017 INMED Humanitarian Crisis Response Award Recipient

March 17th, 2017 by Nicholas Comninellis
Posted in Global Health News & Inspiration|

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.


On the morning of October 4, 2016, Hurricane Matthew slammed into Haiti with winds of 145 miles per hour – the first Category 4 storm to strike Haiti since 1964. Haitian Christian Mission’s Hopital Christ Pour Tous opened in 1981, was already in preparation mode. Immediately following the storm, Edwens Prophete, HCM CEO, and Angie Schuber, Chief Development Officer, made a rapid assessment of emergency needs. Clean water sources were flooded, and so a new well was dug and medical services for anticipated cholera treatment were implemented. Meanwhile, HCM’s ongoing CDC-recognized HIV care clinics, and HCM’s peanut butter nutritional assistance were continued. Through it all, medical director Dr. Deiunord prayed with his patients and reminded the entire Haitian staff, “Why we do what we do.”


Vicki Hicks, 2017 INMED International Healthcare Preceptor Award Recipient

March 10th, 2017 by Nicholas Comninellis
Posted in Global Health News & Inspiration|

The INMED International Healthcare Preceptor Award is offered to an individual who has made an important impact in training of the next generation of international medical volunteers. Through their instruction and their role modeling, the award winners listed below have demonstrated that indeed every life matters.


Vicki Hicks, RN MSN, entered international service via trips through Village Presbyterian Church and Mercy & Truth Medical Missions. Vicki, who has been teaching nursing at Kansas University Medical Center, next became inspired to create similar opportunities for her students, and for some twenty-five years KU nursing students have enjoyed these formative experiences. Just months ago, she facilitated twenty-three students to experience healthcare in Guatemala, Gulu -Uganda, CMC Vellore – India, palliative care in Belgium, and refugee health here in Kansas City through Jewish Vocational Services and Catholic Charities. Throughout, Vicki emphasizes a population-based approach to understanding health needs, as well as a sustainable partnership approach to meeting these needs.