Why Do We Still Have Refugees?

January 7th, 2022 by Nicholas Comninellis
Posted in International Public Health|

Why do we still have refugees? As critical as is this question, a thoughtful inquiry begins with still deeper questions: why do we still have war, poverty, or social injustice? One week each month, I am the emergency physician for a small Missouri town. Almost every patient is compelled to come to my ER suffer from the physical consequences of some failure within society or human character. Similarly, international refugees are almost always flee to another nation because of profound social or human failures.


This world map indicates the countries of origin of today’s international refugees. The greatest numbers are fleeing from the nations in red color: Afghanistan, Syria, Sudan, and Colombia, followed nations in gold color by Yemen and Congo. Why do these nations create refugees? We must begin with deeper questions. Why are these nations replete with war, poverty, social injustice – or simultaneously all three?


Imagine yourself being a citizen in one of these nations, responsible for a young family. How would you respond to conditions that cause your loved ones hunger, cold, physical violence, false imprisonment, or utter destitution? You, like these 70 million others, would likely leave your home behind and attempt a perilous journey to a better locale.


Durable solutions to the cause of international refugees lie in mitigating conditions which force families from their homes. Space here does not permit a suitable analysis of war, poverty, or social injustice. But the corruption underlying them all is blatant disregard for the value of human life.


This 2022 Winter Term I am teaching the INMED International Refugee Care Course, a graduate-level course that earns 2 of academic credit hours towards the Master’s Degree in International Health (MIH). In this context, learners will equip themselves for the phases of international refugee care and thus provide significant aid to these, our worlds most vulnerable citizens. And together we, as caring human beings, will also confront the deeper question, why do we still have refugees?


New For You From INMED In 2022

January 1st, 2022 by Nicholas Comninellis
Posted in INMED Action Steps For You|


One positive outcome of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has been enhanced capacity at INMED to develop new learning opportunities. Here’s welcome news for those like you who are concerned over hunger in Afghanistan, mass casualty in Yemen, and Omicron everywhere. New in 2022 INMED is offering:


Professional Qualification Course in Hands-On Skills for Low-Resource Healthcare. This experience is designed to provide professionals a review of mostly commonly needed clinical skills for settings with a dearth of specialists. Included are hands-on sessions covering wound care and suturing, extremity trauma and immobilization, complicated obstetrics, newborn resuscitation, tropical fever evaluation, and community health survey techniques. Take advantage of Hands-On Skills for Low-Resource Healthcare in Kansas City, MO, on June 9, the day before the 2022 Humanitarian Health Conference!


Professional Qualification Course in Essential Care for Every Baby and Small Babies. Infants need warmth, hygiene, umbilical cord care, eye care, breastfeeding, and proven-effective medications and immunizations. But many around the world go without. This is an evidence-based educational program to prepare healthcare professionals to teach basic baby care techniques in low-resource locations to benefit midwives, mid-level providers, and community health workers. Arrive two days before the 2022 Humanitarian Health Conference, and learn Essential Care for Every Baby and Small Babies in Kansas City, MO, on June 8.


INMED 2022 Winter Term also begins on Monday, Jan 10, with International Refugee Care, Healthcare for Marginalized Americans, Epidemiology, and more. In the springtime, look for INMED’s new Obstetrics Ultrasound for Primary Care Course and long-anticipated Helping Mothers Survive curriculum.


What other new learning opportunities would you like to see from INMED? Please share your ideas by penning a message to [email protected]


What Is The Genesis Of Christmas?

December 24th, 2021 by Nicholas Comninellis
Posted in International Health News & Inspiration|


2 billion people in more than 160 countries over these next two days will celebrate Christmas. Most of these consider Christmas the year’s most important holiday. In the United States alone, regardless of faith, 9 in 10 people observe the celebration.


How did Christmas begin? The most famous account is recorded in the book of Luke, located near the beginning of the New Testament. You can find it in Luke Chapter 2. With exuberance the author describes great news: the birth of a Savior, the son of a very poor migrant couple who delivered in an animal barn.


As you continue reading, Luke describes the boyhood, signs and wonders, and impact of Christ’s words to all humankind. What was he saying then and now? What communiqué is so powerful even thousands of years later?


In short, the Savior’s message is forgiveness of every wrongdoing and the assurance of living forever through turning away from wrongdoing and living like Christ – all this proof by him, a dead man, returning to life.


This year, how shall we respond to Christmas? Beyond precious friends and family, let’s nurture our hearts by enjoying these good tidings of great joy and pondering the message of the Savior, which is Christ the Lord.


Oh, the Places You’ll Go! Oh the People You’ll Meet!

December 18th, 2021 by Nicholas Comninellis
Posted in INMED Action Steps For You|


Oh, the Places You’ll Go! Oh, the People You’ll Meet! Dr. Seuss’ beloved 1990 best seller also expresses the wonder of being an INMED learner: Oh, the people you will meet!


Case in point: this fall’s Graduating Class in International Medicine & Public Health. Juby Thomas is a OB/GYN physician in India, fluent in five languages. Kristin Randa, a Florida State University family medicine global health fellow, logged in from Honduras. Corlina Matthew is a Caribbean national taking advantage of medical school in China. A resident physician in Pittsburgh PA, Oanh Truong’s mother was a 1970s Vietnamese boat person. Laurel Bennett, an American advanced practice nurse, is over serving for eight years in the African nation of Angola. Nnenna Nwabuoku is a Nigerian physician passionate over child health.


What are advantages of such a divergent and international learning environment? Opportunity to seriously consider unique ideas, to develop communication clarity, to foster cultural respect, to enhance your network, to discover previously and imagined opportunities. What’s more, INMED grad enjoyed the opportunity for on-site service-learning (rotation) experience at INMED Training Sites in 25 nations.


Oh, the Places You’ll Go! Oh, the People You’ll Meet! 

Simply make an INMED Course registration complete

Study disease and health in a fresh new way

With classmates from as far as Bombay!


What’s So “Good” about the “Samaritan”?

November 26th, 2021 by Nicholas Comninellis
Posted in International Health News & Inspiration|


The virtue of the Good Samaritan inspires humanitarian efforts throughout the world. Leaders in disaster response, healthcare, search-and-rescue, and hunger relief all invoke this model of action and compassion. Who was the Samaritan and what was so good about this person? Christ described the account in Luke 10:25-37. Please read entirely:


On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”


“What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”


He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”


“You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”


But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”


In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two coins and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’


“Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”


The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”


Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”


Most striking about this account is the other mindedness of the Samaritan. Was he concerned about his personal schedule? No, he paused his journey. Was he focused on his financial status? No, he freely gave out of his resources. Where his actions motivated by desire for fame? No, Samaritans were despised foreigners and he had no clue Christ would reference him.


In concluding, Christ urged, “Go and do likewise.” Many of our colleagues in the caring professionals today follow this other mindedness model of kindness toward those who are disadvantaged, making service for and empowerment of forgotten people an intentional career commitment. Countless lives are preserved through their ongoing devotion, whether in their home communities or in distant locales.


But the meaning of the Good Samaritan is even deeper. Remember the context of the account? “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Christ replied to love God and love one another. The imperative of other mindedness is closely tied to our spiritual health. The goodness of the Samaritan’s actions were an expression of the condition of his heart. Today, as we consider those in need, what does our response say about the condition of our hearts?


Therapeutic Giving

November 19th, 2021 by Nicholas Comninellis
Posted in International Health News & Inspiration|


These winter days are becoming shorter, and colder. Holidays are approaching, and we know we’re ‘supposed’ to be joyful. But amid the pandemic, financial uncertainty, and social unrest, we just cannot find much for which to give thanks.


In this season suicide climbs, mental health facilities fill up, counselors overbook their schedules, and the number of antidepressant prescriptions soars. Justifiably, people want a cure for the blues. But medications take weeks to begin working, counselors start at $100 per hour, and who really wants to be in “therapy”?


Let’s consider a “new” solution: therapeutic giving


Selfless giving is a potent cure for melancholy and depression. In his landmark book, Give To Live, Douglas M. Lawson, PhD, reveals the findings of extensive research on the health effects of giving. It didn’t matter what people gave away. Gifts of time, money, or material possessions all had a similar affects. The factor that mattered most was the frequency and the attitude with which people gave. Those who made giving a regular part of their lives experienced improved relationships, better sleep, longer life expectancy, and significantly less depression.


One of the most visible examples of therapeutic giving at work can be seen in the life of Andrew Carnegie. This impoverished Scottish immigrant established the Pennsylvania steel industry in 1865 and by 1900 sold it for $480 million. But Carnegie hit a snag along the way. He became plagued by despair and paralyzed by physical illnesses linked to depression. His solution? Give away his wealth.


In 1889, Carnegie wrote The Gospel of Wealth, stating that all personal wealth beyond what was required by one’s family should be regarded as a trust fund to benefit the community. Carnegie added, “The man who dies thus rich dies disgraced.” Carnegie established organizations that, among other objectives, founded 2,509 libraries around the world. Carnegie also became known as one of the most joyous philanthropists of his day.


Few of us have access to the abundance of Carnegie, but the power of giving is undeterred by one’s financial resources. Each of us possesses time and talent – perhaps even some treasure as well. As we give wealth to those outside, we may also discover we also receive health on the inside.


Who Was The Very First In Medical Missions?

November 5th, 2021 by Nicholas Comninellis
Posted in International Health News & Inspiration|


The early history of international medical missions is punctuated by one person inspiring another. Dr. John Thomas (1757-1801) was a British ship doctor with the for-profit East India Company working in southern Asia. But in 1787 he left the company to remain in Bangladesh, where he learned the language and ministered to the sick who came to him for help. It was Thomas who later recruited William Cary – one of history’s most influential church planters – to India.


In 1866 the first American physician, John Scudder, arrived to work in Sri Lanka & India. His granddaughter, Ida Scudder, caught a similar vision and later founded Vellore Christian Medical College in India, 1900. Today, VCMC is one of the most respected and influential Health Centers in Asia.


Peter Parker, pictured here, was the first American physician in China. Arriving in 1834, he developed a program to train Chinese medical students resulting in the first modern hospital in the nation the future. Parker later motivated Dr. John Abercrombie to establish the Edinburgh Medical Mission Society. By 1915, EMMS operated 54 mission hospitals in China, India, Malawi, and Israel.


Thomas, Scudder and Parker were the first in international medical ministries. Understanding the pattern of their influence should cause us to ask ourselves, “Who inspires me?” and “Whom do I inspire?” The future of medical missions depends on such pivotal questions.

Meet INMED at GMHC in Louisville Next Week!

October 29th, 2021 by Nicholas Comninellis
Posted in INMED Action Steps For You|


The Global Missions Health Conference is one of just three premier annual US international health events. On Thu-Sat, Nov 11-13, please join INMED for GMHC in Louisville, Kentucky!


Thursday, from 10am to 1:30pm INMED is hosting the Diseases of Poverty Update Course, with Nicholas Comninellis presenting Fighting the Diseases of Poverty Overview and Launching Your International Healthcare Career, plus Tim Myrick presenting  Tissue Helminth Diseases (schistosomiasis, filariasis) and Tropical Medicine Case Studies. Please register now to hold your place for the Diseases of Poverty Update Course!


At the INMED exhibit on the main floor David Culpepper will be offering ultrasound teaching and scanning opportunities throughout the conference days. Elizabeth Burgos will be on hand to talk with you about international service-learning options at INMED Training Sites in 25 nations. Leda Rivera will field you questions about INMED Academic Credit Courses. And Val Geier can assist with CME/ACE accreditation for your upcoming medical education events.


The best part of such conferences is the opportunity to talk together in person about inspiration and aspirations. We’ll be looking forward to a conversation you at GMHC next week!


Hope Against Pus, Pain, and Hunger

October 22nd, 2021 by Nicholas Comninellis
Posted in INMED Grads In Action|

“Adorable, little two-year-old Jacinta arrived at Cavango Hospital in severe respiratory distress,” says Tim Kubacki. “Ultrasound revealed a large amount of liquid in the space surrounding her heart and in one chest cavity. We drained several cups of thin pus, likely from TB, the consistency of motor oil, from her chest cavity, which had collapsed her lung, and about two cups of thick, creamy pus from her heart cavity (pericardium) with no available anesthesia. She was frightened but held still throughout the procedure that required repeating three more times in the coming days… Jacinta’s caring mother is a joy, full of questions and interested in everything we do, crying during her daughter’s procedures but looking on in amazement as she sees all of the pus removed from around her tiny heart.”


Tim is a family physician and a 2012 graduate of the INMED Professional Diploma in International Medicine and Public Health. Since 2011, he and his family have lived in the African nation of Angola, where Dr. Kubacki has been one of my colleagues at CEML Hospital. Passionate for those in rural Angola who have absolutely no healthcare, Kubacki, with his colleagues from both Angola and Brazil, serve at Cavango Hospital – the location so remote that travel by air is often the only option.



But in Angola, remote is where most people live. Life in that region is hard, with malnutrition and trauma making people especially susceptible. Surmises Kubacki, “Severe infections and addressing the resulting accumulations of pus are a common part of our work because of lack of access to medical care causing delayed treatment for infections that otherwise would be treated simply and painlessly much earlier. Lately, it seems every day we are draining pus from various body cavities in multiple people… from the heart, the muscles, the skin, the abdomen, chest cavities, the neck.” Please read more about Dr. Kubacki and hope against pus, pain, and hunger at KubackisInAngola.

Controlling The Next Emergency Pandemic

October 15th, 2021 by Nicholas Comninellis
Posted in International Public Health|


Is the COVID-19 Pandemic simply a once-in-a-lifetime threat? Or rather, is this a warning of health emergencies to come? Today’s globalization of travel and commerce make communicable, infectious diseases much more transmissible person-to-person and nation-to-nation. August’s analysis by the Center for Global Development projects that the probability of another COVID-19-like pandemic in the next 25 years is 47-57%. In conclusion, the report calls for great investment into prospective pandemic risk reduction, infectious disease surveillance, and robust response planning.


This fall, INMED is offering the Emergency Pandemic Control Course. This two-credit-hour, graduate level Learning opportunity emphasizes objective investigation into critical questions, including identifying infectious agents, modes of transmission, incubation periods, and effective modalities for prevention, diagnosis, and treatment. This course also highlights how emergency pandemic control also often requires deliberate interventions to address special ethical challenges: disease-associated racism, resistance to local and international cooperation, and extreme stress placed upon low-resource health systems.


INMED’s Emergency Pandemic Control Course can be taken as a standalone, or as part of the INMED Master’s Degree in International Health. Without question, the next 25 years will see significant growth in international travel in commerce. Armed with pandemic control skills, healthcare leaders of today and tomorrow can save our world’s citizens from a twice-in-a-lifetime threat.