Health for All

The Vanga Story
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Description

When Dan Fountain and his wife arrived in the Congo in 1961, the challenges to effective medical missions seemed overwhelming. As the only doctor for a quarter of a million residents of the Vanga Health Zone, and with nothing but a dilapidated mission hospital and an undertrained staff to run it, Dr. Fountain turned to prayer, innovation, and local partnerships to meet the vast needs of his area.

Health for All tells the story of an ever-increasing vision—from curative care to community health, from a barely functioning hospital to a network of successful health services, from a lack of qualified workers to a local residency training program, from biomedical reductionism to whole person care, from cultural stalemate to worldview transformation.  Dr. Fountain’s insights into health and wholeness have changed countless lives and communities. Part memoir, part history, part textbook, Health for All is the legacy of a man who patterned his life and labor after that of the Great Physician.

  • ISBN: 9780878085354
  • Pages: 234
  • Binding: Paperback
  • Published: 2014
  • Publisher: William Carey Library

Endorsements

Health for All, Dr. Fountain’s magnum opus distilled from thirty-five years’ experience as a physician in the Congo, provides some of the most important insights into missions available anywhere today. A master of cross-cultural communication second to none, Dr. Fountain has unique insights into the problems in medical missions today, the problems we have when healthcare is reduced to physical care, a biblical approach to healthcare, how to make healthcare financially sustainable, and other issues at the core of development. His discussion of animism alone is worth the price of the book—and not just for those who practice in “developing countries.” In a day in which thousands of would-be world changers are crying for role models, Dr. Fountain’s amazing personal story inspires and informs. This ought to be a required textbook for anyone even considering doing cross-cultural healthcare.

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I highly recommend Dan Fountain’s new book, Health for All. This is a capstone for his multiple books on wholistic healthcare as well as his books and articles on total healthcare systems. I appreciate his thematic approach, which gives the history of the different themes of the Vanga story, a health system in the Congo. Dan has been the father of faith-based total healthcare systems, from hospitals through clinics to community healthcare programs, and Vanga is the result. Vanga’s impact has been unmatched with its focus on
decentralized rural healthcare. Don’t miss it!

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In this book Dr. Fountain provides an amazingly clear understanding of the role that medical missionaries should assume in empowering and partnering with the people whom they serve. He establishes not only the philosophical and social context but a real biblical understanding, while sharing practical methods of how to accomplish real health and healing, using to great effect the history and success of his own very significant work in the Vanga Health Zone of Congo. His unflagging commitment to community health and training in a culturally sensitive way and the results that it produces, comes through in chapter after chapter.
Reading this book, I am reminded why he has been my teacher about crosscultural healthcare and the priority of the gospel in that work. And I will read it again and again and be taught by him once more. His ideas have the depth of being timeless. This book is a must-read for anyone contemplating
short- or long-term medical missions.

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I strongly endorse Health for All for all those involved in mission outreach of any kind. Dr. Daniel Fountain, together with his wife, Miriam, has been one of the most respected and influential figures in medical missions during the past half-century—up until his recent death in 2013. Over several decades of medical work in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Dr. Fountain developed and modeled a wholistic approach to medical care, an approach which has been adopted not only by Christian mission organizations worldwide but also by the World Health Organization. This book is a stirring first-hand account of Dr. Fountain’s contributions in the Congo, which have led to a virtual revolution in medical missions around the world. Promoting health is integral to promoting the gospel of Christ; this book explains why and shows how to do it.

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Health for All is a fresh and personal perspective by a well-respected medical missionary and primary healthcare pioneer, Dr. Daniel Fountain. Dan realized early in his career the need “to move beyond medical care to healthcare.”  This book is full of Vanga’s “moving beyond” experience. It includes keen and informative insights on topics such as bringing traditions and science together, getting primary healthcare to the people, decentralizing from hospital to health center, and running a health service in a bankrupt economy.  I highly recommend this book to anyone with an interest in learning about the reality of working with primary healthcare in Africa.

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Health for All could be titled Medicine beyond the Physical Dimension of Life.Throughout it, Dr. Daniel Fountain describes how he and his wife, Miriam, with the help of the people around them, pioneered a truly sustainable African Christian health service network out of a small mission hospital. An apostle for “health for all and by all,” Dr. Fountain worked wholistically and infused all health interventions with the importance of working with a team spirit. What has been established by Dr. Fountain and his wife in the Vanga Health Zone of the Bandundu Province has extensively impacted the policies of the Ministry of Health in the Congo. The Vanga health service remains a model and is still in the top ten of the Congo’s best organized and functioning health services, while the Vanga ISTM (Superior Medical Training Institute), inaugurated by the Minister of Education and named after Miriam Fountain, remains one of the best in the country. More than just a novel to read, Health
for All deserves to be regularly consulted.

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Reading this book released a flood of memories about the author, and it was like having a conversation with a man whom I consider one of my main mentors in medical missions. He is, no doubt, considered a mentor by many other and very accomplished people in the field of medical missions methodology and theology. In this book there is so much of Dr. Dan Fountain’s wisdom, based on his carefully thought out approach to healthcare missions and his many years of experience and study. He was truly one of the great and original thinkers in this field.  With clarity, candor, and humor, Dr. Dan Fountain articulately shares key lessons drawn from thirty-five years of dedicated service to the people of Congo at Vanga Evangelical Hospital. Dan is a master of narrative, applying real-life stories and drama to illustrate core principles of development in healthcare for underserved populations. Ranging from latrines to leadership, his stories
reflect his epiphanies in working cross-culturally. As Dan weaves in Scripture quotes and stories from the Bible, the reader hears Dan’s own Mentor speaking. His book is full of practical wisdom and historical insights, teaching the reader the foundations of “making disciples” wherever one serves. This book is eminently accessible for readers at any level. I could not put it down as I heard Dan speaking to me once again, just as he did when I first worked at Vanga in 1976. Well done, Dan, good and faithful servant!

 

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This inspirational book describes how all the great themes of health of the people, by the people, and for the people actually work in practice and still do in the heart of Africa. It is an account of this remarkable story by the doctor who started, developed, and continued this work for over forty years. It shows how the kingdom of God has the power to nurture and transform individuals, health facilities, and communities.

 

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Dan Fountain was a student of God’s story. He told me that as a student at Colgate he learned inductive Bible Study from InterVarsity, which was foundational to his missionary career. Dan also listened carefully to other people’s stories. He was genuinely interested in each person’s story because he sought to connect their story to God’s story. In this autobiography Dan adds his own story. It is the amazing story of how Dan, with God’s guidance, was a healthcare missionary pioneer in curative medicine and public health. His insights into culture, healthcare management, and whole person care are treasured by those he taught and mentored. I’m glad he found time to record this amazing story for future generations.

 

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“Culture is the patent that ensures the continuation of a practice,” and this applies so perfectly to what Dr. Dan Fountain talks about in this excellent book. It traces the journey he and his team undertook to change the culture in the Vanga rural community from being a passive recipient of healthcare services from a hospital run by expatriates, to a holistically integrated community health and development program that covers the needs of nearly 250,000 people in the catchment area spread over nearly 300 villages.  Through a team of health workers whom they trained, using a curriculum that they developed, Dr. Dan Fountain and his team enabled access to healthcare for everyone in the area served. They addressed the prevalent animistic worldview, changed healthcare-related behavior, transformed a mediocre hospital to a quality hospital, and successfully ran a massive and integrated healthcare service in a bankrupt economy! There are plenty of lessons to learn from this book for those working in the developing world who want to make a difference.

 

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Among the twentieth-century missionary heroes the name Dan Fountain stands high. He took over a typical missionary hospital in 1961 and transformed it and missionary medical practice completely. This book is the story of a doctor who partnered with Jesus and the local people to develop a comprehensive healthcare program in a bankrupt country. He believed that “healthcare, to be effective, must be comprehensive, blending together concern for the physical, psychological, social, and spiritual dimensions of life.”
And he modeled it. Dr. Fountain’s medical work in the Congo is an example for us all of how to integrate a healing ministry with a solid concern that Jesus be at the center.
I am especially impressed with his attempt to deal with spiritual issues within the context of a healthcare program. Africans are as much concerned with the spiritual dimensions of healthcare as with the physical dimensions. As Americans, our usual approach is to plunk a Western hospital into the midst of animistic people, paying scant attention to spiritual issues. Fountain and his coworkers, to their credit, avoided this trap. For all of us who have sought to do mission in such a way that it will be sustainable as well as compassionate, Dr. Dan Fountain is a hero.

 

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Dr. Dan Fountain has captured the essence of what it means to do crosscultural healthcare effectively in our generation. I am particularly inspired by the story of the Vanga Hospital, which I heard Dr. Fountain speak about on various occasions. It is a heartening case study which has been used to develop other hospital programs in Central Africa. If you are familiar with
mission hospitals in places like India and Africa, you will find this a fascinating read and a great encouragement. I heartily recommend anything Dr. Fountain writes on contemporary medical mission issues.

 

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Dr. Dan Fountain has done an outstanding job in the Congo, creating a healthcare network that has improved the lifestyle and lifespan of 250,000 people in the widespread area focused on the Vanga Hospital. Now he tells us how this was done in Health for All. His first step after arriving in Vanga in 1961 was to begin training Congolese, who staffed the ever-expanding network of health centers. He worked with and through both Protestant and Catholic churches, building valuable trust relationships with the population.
This book is invaluable for anyone interested in missions because of the effective methodologies described for us by Dr. Fountain.

 

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Health for All is the inspiring story of Dr. Fountain’s remarkable effort to develop a medical ministry modeled after the Great Physician. As seen in the Scriptures, our Lord set the example in demonstrating concern and care for the whole person. He did not compartmentalize his ministry, separating the physical from the spiritual or the scientific from the biblical. Christ’s ministry was holistic, extending love to all the varied dimensions of human life. That is what we see in this unique account of medical missions. Dedicating several
decades of their lives to serve rural communities in the Congo, Dr. Fountain and his wife developed a deep understanding of the local culture and the worldview assumptions of the people. This understanding served as the foundation for their successful ministry. I appreciate Dr. Fountain’s wisdom and have benefitted greatly from other books he has written. Health for All is another valuable book for anyone interested in learning more about a holistic approach to cross-cultural missions or Christian development work.

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Table of Contents

Foreword
Introduction

  • 1 The Vision
  • 2 Beginnings
  • 3 Multiplication: Training Health Workers
  • 4 Decentralization: Getting Primary Healthcare to the People
  • 5 Community Health: Preparing the Foundation
  • 6 Bringing Traditions and Science Together
  • 7 Culture Makes Almost All the Difference
  • 8 Animism and the Gospel
  • 9 From a Mediocre to a Quality Hospital
  • 10 Training Competent Physicians for Africa
  • 11 Putting the Whole Person Back Together
  • 12 HIV: The Great Challenge
  • 13 Population Dynamics and How to Influence Them
  • 14 Management as Partnership
  • 15 Running a Health Service in a Bankrupt Economy
  • 16 Healthcare and the Christian Faith
  • 17 The Missionary Call.. Bibliography

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