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Healing ministries

LEARNING ABOUT medical missionaries when in high school was the beginning of a life-long interest and career in medicine for Albert St Uniting Church member and UnitingCare Queensland board member Dr Ian Airey, a specialist anaesthetist and specialist in intensive care.

Dr Airey said it has been a satisfying and humbling privilege to walk with families through confronting medical trials.
“Helping families understand the realities of a loved-one’s prognosis is important,” he said.

I am convinced that the life and teachings of Jesus indicate a universal truth which can enrich our lives.”

Dr Airey said the biggest issue facing the medical world today is poverty and the western world’s ignorance of how that affects developing and third world countries.

“Each day around the world 1500 women die in childbirth and 6800 people die of malaria or gastroenteritis,” he said.

“These deaths are largely preventable but we in the west are not prepared to fund simple measures to remedy the situation.

This is as huge a social justice issue as slavery was in the nineteenth century.

“Poverty is associated with poor sanitation, unclean water, poor nutrition, chronic ill-health, sub-standard housing, poor education, shortened life expectancy etc.

“This reflects poorly on the west which has the capacity but not the will to alleviate profound poverty.”

Working on aid projects in Western Samoa and East Timor and being a member of the Wesley Mission Brisbane (WMB) council, Dr Airey learned that the things that unite people are greater than the things that divide them.

“The fundamental things which make us human are the same, regardless of our race or culture.

The great un-equaliser is poverty.”

According to Dr Airey, we are at the beginning of another medical revolution.

“There will be ethical questions as genetic manipulation becomes part of daily practice,” he said.

“For the church the question as to who we are will come into sharp relief as we learn to switch genes on and off, and particularly as it becomes possible to take cells from a person and grow another person with an identical genetic profile.

“The immediate challenge is for the church to engage the health industry and community to determine agreed positions on when the use of advanced technologies is inappropriate, and how to support the patient and their loved ones when this position is reached.”