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"Healing the World"

Over 150,000 people died when a tsunami swept the Indian Ocean December 26. About 5,000,000 are homeless.

Many organizations help with both disaster relief, and with year-in, year-out assistance around the world. Most aren't as likely to get mentioned on the news as, say, Red Cross or UNESCO.

Catholic Medical Mission Board, or CMMB is a Catholic charity based in the USA that provides health care around the world. Their motto is "Healing the World, One Person At A Time."

Survivors of the tsunami who get help from relief organizations in their area may be healed with medicine and supplies provided by CMMB.

The Catholic Medical Mission Board has been at work for over 75 years. Back in the 1920s, a young anesthesiologist at St.Vincent's Hospital in New York, Dr. Paluel Flagg, visited Haiti. Leprosy was a serious problem there. Dr. Flagg began recruiting doctors, nurses, and missionaries to bring medical help to needy people around the world.

In 1928 the Catholic Medical Mission Board (CMMB) was incorporated with Father Edward Garesche, SJ (Society of Jesus), as director.

In the 1930s, CMMB had an office and warehouse in Manhattan. Volunteers there, and in clubs called Blue Cross Circles around the country prepared medical materials for use overseas.

Bishop Fulton Sheen joined CMMB's Board of Directors in 1949. Bishop Sheen was national director of the Propagation of the Faith and a prominent television personality at the time. He encouraged pharmaceutical companies to donate medicines to Catholic Medical Mission Board. The materials were packed and shipped from Manhattan to affiliate organizations around the world.

Father Joseph J. Walter, SJ, became CMMB director in 1966. During his 23 years as director, CMMB started giving funds to appropriate healthcare programs in developing countries.

Dr. Flagg's concern with health care in other countries had started when he saw victims of leprosy in Haiti. In 1989 Catholic Medical Mission Board earned the Damian-Dutton Award for its work towards the eradication of leprosy.

CMMB started funding Lithuania's first Early Intervention Training Program in neuro-developmental therapy in 1993. This program is teaching Lithuanian health professionals how to diagnose and treat children with neurological disorders.

Zambia got help fighting TB when CMMB started a program of cure and prevention there in 1999. The program is now a national model, with an 85% cure rate.

People in southern Africa got help fighting AIDS in 2000 when CMMB started a five-year program called Choose to Care. Over 70 community-based programs supported by Catholic Medical Mission Board help take care of orphans. They also care for the dying, provide HIV/AIDS education and help with community development.

Since 2001 CMMB has been working at building sustainable healthcare programs all over the world.

Now Catholic Medical Mission Board is helping people recover from the India Ocean tsunami. As usual, the best idea for us is to contribute money and let people on the ground decide what is needed most. CMMB asks that donations be sent to:

Catholic Medical Mission Board
10 West 17th St.
New York, NY 10011-5765

Call 212 242 7757 or 800 678 5659
Or contribute online at

Brian H. Gill, Editor, Sauk Centre K of C Bulletin

January 2005

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This page last updated December 19, 2010