Turning scarcity into abundance

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Turning scarcity into abundance

Stephen A. Kahn, MD ’99, came to Harvard Medical School to learn how to address critical global health challenges. As a student, he worked in rural and urban hospitals in Zambia and Bolivia, and as an emergency medicine physician, he has treated patients in Costa Rica and Haiti.

“I learned so much from these talented and committed doctors and nurses. However, their countries’ health systems desperately needed help. I quickly realized that clinical skills alone were not going to solve these challenges,” says Kahn, who established the Abundance Foundation to partner with visionaries who, as he puts it, are transforming scarcity into abundance.

Since 2009, Kahn has supported many such visionaries at HMS. Recently, he has directed more than $2 million to advance key initiatives in the Department of Global Health and Social Medicine (DGHSM), which have strengthened global research efforts and increased access to quality care for Ebola, cholera, and mental illness. His dedication to increasing educational opportunities for global health practitioners has led to the creation of the Master of Medical Sciences in Global Health Delivery (MMSc-GHD) program, the development of the Global Health Delivery Project collaboration platform, and the distribution of a global surgery manual to physicians in resource-poor settings.

“Stephen has been one of our biggest and most consistent supporters, not to mention the profound impact of his dedication, partnership, and thought leadership on global health equity and sustainability,” says DGHSM Chair Paul Farmer, MD ’90, PhD ’90, Kolokotrones University Professor, chief of the Division of Global Health Equity at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and co-founder and chief strategist of Partners In Health.

Infinite Impact

Left to right: Fernet Léandre, MD, MMSc ’14; Melino Ndayizigiye, MD, MMSc ’14; Shruthi Rajashekara, MD ’14, MMSc ’14; and Kobel Dubique, MD, MMSc ’14, who are the first graduates of the Master of Medical Sciences in Global Health Delivery program, created through the support of Stephen A. Kahn, MD ’99, president of the Abundance FoundationLaunched in 2012, the MMSc-GHD program is a two-year program that prepares future leaders in the design, implementation, evaluation, and improvement of health programs in resource-poor settings. To-date, 17 students have graduated from MMSc-GHD and 19 students are currently enrolled.

“Stephen has served not only as our benefactor, but also as a steadfast champion in training global leaders who will define the discipline of global health delivery in the coming decades,” says Joia S. Mukherjee, MD, MPH ’01, director of the MMSc-GHD program and an associate professor of medicine at HMS.

Through Kahn’s support for the Global Health Research Core, HMS is working to understand the most urgent research questions around Ebola. Megan Murray, MD ’90, MPH ’96, DPH ’01, professor of global health and social medicine, is leading the Sierra Leone Diagnostics Study—funded entirely through Kahn’s support—to test the efficacy of a new point-of-care diagnostic. She and her team have shown that the test may speed diagnosis, getting people without Ebola out of treatment units so they are not exposed to infection and not burdening the clinical staff in the “red zone.”

Kahn says HMS’s work directly supports the mission and vision of the Abundance Foundation to train the next generation of global health visionaries. “As an alumnus of HMS and member of the Global Health Advisory Council and the Advisory Council on Education, I am inspired by my opportunity to work with some of the most innovative thinkers and doers in the global health community,” he says.

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