A COLUMN, A CONTINENT, A $500,000 PRIZE
New Gerson L’Chaim Prize–Inspired by a NYT Piece–
Is Largest Ever in Clinical Care
NEW YORK CITY — AUGUST 17, 2016 — Announcing the $500,000 Rabbi Erica and Mark Gerson L’Chaim (“To Life”) Prize, an annual award for Outstanding Christian Medical Missionary Service–the largest-ever in clinical patient care.The historic prize, inspired by the response to a New York Times column, springs from a friendship between former college roommates: New York entrepreneur Mark Gerson and Dr. Jon Fielder, a Christian missionary living in Kenya.
From love of history and ideas in their college years, Gerson and Fielder graduated to shared concern for Africa. Early on, as Fielder helped build HIV programs there, Gerson supplied, in Fielder’s words, “intellectual firepower and humbling generosity.” By 2010 the two had founded the African Mission Healthcare Foundation (AMHF) to support Africa’s faith-based healthcare workers, who provide one-third of Africa’s medical care.
The result is a practicing Jewish couple advancing essential healthcare led by Christians. “In nearly a decade I’ve seen limited resources in this community yield extraordinary return in lives saved and suffering relieved,” Gerson explains. “The Jewish and Christian faiths share sanctity of life as the highest value. My wife and I are gratified to honor the physicians most effectively employing resources to heal the world’s poorest and most vulnerable.”
The inaugural 2016 Gerson L’Chaim Prize drew 26 applications from long-term medical missionaries, Catholic and Protestant, in 12 countries. Projects submitted cover women’s health centers, African doctor training, cancer diagnosis and treatment, pediatric surgery training and care, heart surgery, mobile HIV care, malaria prevention, and ER centers. The selection committee combines current and former medical missionaries, African healthcare experts, and on-the-ground clinicians.
The four finalists for the 2016 inaugural Gerson L’Chaim Prize will be announced in October; the prize is awarded in November 2016.
Noted medical missionary Dr. Tom Catena–the subject of Nicholas Kristof’s widely read impetus for the prize, applauds the effort. “The hospitals and doctors are deeply invested in the community. They stretch a dollar to incredible lengths in service of the poor,” he said. “This award will transform healthcare for the winner’s institution and inspire others to join as AMHF serves those who need it most.”
Learn more at:
About African Mission Healthcare Foundation
About the Prize Founders
While earning his MD from Baylor College of Medicine, Jon Fielder spent nine months with Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity. After training in internal medicine at Johns Hopkins Hospital, at a rural mission teaching hospital in Kenya he helped start a HIV treatment and training program, now caring for nearly 5,000 people. His training program has equipped 2,000-plus Kenyan health workers to care for HIV sufferers, and across Kenya he has helped mission hospitals establish HIV clinics. His textbook, Tuberculosis in the Era of HIV, is widely used in East and Southern Africa. In Malawi, Dr. Fielder initiated a community HIV support program, hospital ward and TB clinic. Living with his family outside Nairobi, Dr. Fielder now serves full time as president of AMHF.