Summer 2017

An Ounce of Prevention

Tom Mason, member of the Board, Medical Ambassadors International

Dr. Ken Cooper of the Cooper Clinic in Dallas, Texas, founded his clinic in 1970 on the concept of preventative medicine. The focus of this clinic from the beginning has been on health assessment and counseling aimed not at curing sick people, but at helping well people stay well. Dr. Cooper has often said, “It is far easier to maintain good health than it is to restore good health after it is lost.”

That philosophy is at the heart of prevention. We live in a time of unprecedented information available on a worldwide basis that helps people understand the causes of preventable illness and the key steps to keeping those illnesses from damaging lives. One of the keys to better health on a global scale is the dissemination of that information and the providing of tools and preventive training. This is at the heart of Community Health Evangelism (CHE) and the mission of Medical Ambassadors International, along with a calling to also address spiritual illness by the sharing of the Gospel and the planting of churches.

It is far easier to maintain good health than it is to restore good health after it is lost.

When I think of the power of prevention, I am carried back to my childhood. I am old enough to recall a time when polio caused fear and trembling for every mother. It was a debilitating disease, affecting mainly the young, and its causes were poorly understood. My wife and I attended high school together, and among our classmates was a beautiful and charming girl who had battled polio as a child.  As a teenager, her legs carried braces and her mobility was limited. No running, no basketball, no cheerleading, and I am sure she suffered pain, both as a child and in her teen years.

In the years that followed, my wife and I married and raised four children. We have since also had the blessing of seven grandchildren, and not once in all that time, either with our children or our grandchildren, did we ever worry about polio. Not once, thanks to Dr. Jonas Salk. The thing that changed all of this was not the invention of a medicine that cured polio, but rather the creation of a vaccine by Dr. Salk which prevented the disease from developing in the first place.

Even so, sixty-three years after Dr. Salk announced his vaccine, there are remote parts of the world where polio is still a problem. Today’s cases exist in only three countries—Afghanistan, Nigeria, and Pakistan—which are countries with low vaccination rates.

This is but one example, as dramatic as it is, of the power of prevention in eradicating illnesses and improving the quality of life. Far simpler examples, such as training young women on the proper cleansing and handling of eating utensils, or training villages on the proper disposal of sewage, have had an equally profound impact on improving the physical health of some of the least served areas of the world.

For more than thirty years, Medical Ambassadors International has served these least-served areas with help and compassion. Through hands-on training and the sharing of tools and information, this organization has stood in the gap by providing the most important key there is to disease prevention—knowledge.

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