Lois Merritt

Nathan Barlow MD, Nearest Doctor For A Million People

Would you rather practice medicine in America, or in an arena of immeasurable human need? Dr. Nathan Barlow, along with his wife, Doris liked to be needed. Understatement! He loved to be really, really needed! Joy and sorrow, risk, and solid certainty fill the pages of this biographical memoir. In 1945, as World War II was ending, Nathan closed his medical practice in California. He and Doris packed up their four small children and headed for Ethiopia, where Nathan would become the nearest doctor for a million inhabitants of Wolaitta province. Nathan and Doris embarked on their career as medical missionaries, an adventure that would span the next six decades. Even after Doris died, Nathan returned to Wolaitta at the age of 84 to launch the mossy foot project, his last great ambition, a program to treat and prevent a crippling disease afflicting over twenty thousand people.When the Barlows first arrived in Wolaitta an epidemic of relapsing fever was killing hundreds of people, and the wails of the bereaved echoed from the mountains and valleys. Other swift and deadly scourges claimed vast numbers--meningitis, cholera, smallpox, and yellow fever.In Wolaitta, when a child died, friends came to console the grieving parents, and offered the customary condolence: “May God give you another one who will live to grow up.” How could one doctor stop killer-epidemics? Who could he train as rural medics? How could he treat illnesses, vaccinate multitudes, teach disease prevention to the public, and keep babies from dying? This is Nathan's story.
286 printed pages
Original publication


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