Hearing the cries of the poor: healthcare as human response.

Author:Robinson, Adam M., Jr.


Your Grace Archbishop Tutu, Your Excellencies Ambassador Nolan and Distinguished Leaders of the Government of Botswana and the University, colleagues, students, and friends. It is a deep honor to be with you all today and lead this afternoons keynote session. I am honored and privileged to follow Archbishop Tutu's outstanding presentation this morning. To take part in this special conference with such distinguished leaders whom I have long admired is certainly one of the highlights of my naval career. Thank you for inviting me and for asking me to be part of this important conference.

I am a firm believer that events like this provide each of us with an opportunity to help advance our shared goals and interests. Today's exchange allows us to speak openly about where we are and, more importantly, where we want to go. As a result, there is a lot of incentive for us to share our opinions and ideas today. Even more importantly, we are here because we want to celebrate a significant milestone for the university and for Botswana.

The University of Botswana has enjoyed a long and distinguished history from its remote origins in 1950, through the establishment of diverse movements a decade later, to the place of honor that the university holds today in this region. You indeed are an amazing community of scholarship and learning.

I am deeply aware of the immense responsibility you continually undertake to serve those who suffer from disease and illness. We are kindred spirits in this partnership as we share an abiding commitment to stretch hands across the water in the solidarity of healthcare. I am in admiration of your leadership to stave off various infectious diseases such as HIV, malaria, cholera, tuberculosis and others. As a physician and as a healthcare leader, I am very conscious of our mutual bond to defend against disease in every nation and every culture, and to bring to everyone not just prevention or intervention, but the joy that comes with quality human living.

In our mutual mission of healthcare, our efforts are achieved when we bring to others a sense of enrichment that touches individuals, their families, their communities, their nations--and in doing so--the world.

We are joined together in this common mission. And this joint mission is why I feel privileged to join you this week and into the years to come, to build with one another a world filled with love, hope, and security founded on the premise of compassionate care for all.

In this uncertain world, the United States, as well as other nations, has continued to forge greater bonds of trust and cooperation with people and countries around the world to contribute to the common good. It is a common good symbolized by this medical convention--a first of its kind here in Botswana, a truly remarkable gathering of government, military, and industry leaders.

This past August, the university's commitment to medical leadership has taken on a new and profound depth as it has welcomed its first class of medical students. I salute you. I welcome you. I cannot tell you how wonderful it is to be here as a physician and a witness to the passion for healthcare education and leadership as it takes root here. You are delivering this university as a community of hope. Creating this atmosphere of "Hope" is what I would like to speak with you about today.

As the United States Navy Surgeon General, I have the unique opportunity to serve not only my nation, but also humanity. This service is manifested most dramatically in the notion of humanitarian assistance. Because in humanitarian assistance we lend assistance to those people around the world in need. We help them--we bolster security and stability--and, most importantly, WE CREATE HOPE.

Navy Medicine, along with the rest of the United States Department of Defense, realizes that the promotion of world peace is dependent upon more than weapons and/or political alliances. World peace is also dependent upon security and stability. Where there is security and stability, we also find hope. And hope is the essence of what fires our souls and provides light in our world. Hope becomes the beacon that shows us the way from darkness and desolation (abandonment)...

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