U.S. Prize Money Helps Arrest Cardiac Killer In Africa

November 28, 2017

(Dr. Russell White in Kenya Receives $500,000
to Combat Heart and Health Problems Worsened by Local Poverty)

Syndicated by: Montana News

NEW YORK CITY – Nov. 27, 2017 – The world’s largest individual award for direct clinical care will go to curb the heart disease killing thousands of Kenyans every year. Dr. Russell White, winner of the 2017 Gerson L’Chaim (“To Life”) Prize, will be empowered to protect and strengthen young hearts, treat damaged heart valves, and train young African surgeons. 


“In a remote setting, the resources to improve diagnosis, treatment and surgery—and to advance prevention—is a world-changer,” Dr. White said of receiving the second-ever annual award from the African Mission Healthcare Foundation. “The Prize will help us treat not just heart problems but esophageal cancer and complications of tuberculosis as well.”  Worldwide, rheumatic heart disease kills roughly a fifth of the number felled by AIDS, TB or malaria, but those diseases receive 500-1,000 times as much funding.


The L’Chaim Prize is awarded by the African Mission Healthcare Foundation (AMHF), a product of the friendship of New York entrepreneur Mark Gerson and Dr. Jon Fielder, a medical missionary serving in Kenya.


“Missionary doctors are moral superheroes,” said Gerson, who underwrites the Prize with his wife, Rabbi Erica Gerson. "Trading comfort and convenience to give life and health, these men and women bring skilled compassion to the continent’s poor.” 


“We’re watching Dr. White’s program become the premiere cardiothoracic care center in the region, and we’re eager to enhance it,” Dr. Fielder said. “He and his team deliver physical, emotional and spiritual care as they train the next generation of African healthcare professionals.”


Medical professionals are Africa’s most endangered species. Since the number of U.S. missions and agencies in Africa peaked in the last century, the docs still there, and their African colleagues, receive shrinking support as they combat complex medical challenges—from AIDS to surgical problems to cancer. Fielder and Gerson, with friends and supporters, formed AMHF to bolster Africa’s white-lab-coat superheroes and their institutions.


The 2017 Gerson L'Chaim Prize drew 25 applications from long-term medical missionaries in 15 countries. Candidate projects included family doctor training, an oxygen system, HIV care, a spine surgery center, and pediatric intensive care.



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