Largest private gift ever to Christian medical missions — at least $20M — given by Rabbi Erica and Mark Gerson, in conjunction with UBS

6 min readSep 24, 2021

Largest private gift ever to Christian medical missions — at least $20M — given by Rabbi Erica and Mark Gerson, in conjunction with UBS

Press Release: The KAIROS Company for Mark Gerson and African Mission Healthcare

Sept. 22, 2021

NEW YORK — African Mission Healthcare expresses gratitude to Jewish entrepreneur Mark Gerson and his wife, Rabbi Erica Gerson, for committing $18 million dollars to support the lifesaving work of African Mission Healthcare (AMH), a nonprofit organization envisaged by Gerson and his friend Dr. Jon Fielder, who become friends 30 years ago while students together at Williams College. African Mission Healthcare partners with mission hospitals to provide quality, compassionate care to patients and to improve healthcare systems throughout sub-Saharan Africa.

The Gersons are joined in their generosity by the United Bank of Switzerland (UBS), which has agreed to add $2 million to the Gerson’s gift — for a total commitment of $20 million — through the UBS Optimus Foundation. $11 million of this total gift will be available to AMH immediately to expand selected high-impact projects. The remaining $9 million will be made available as a donor match in support of AMH’s Transforming Healthcare Campaign, challenging others to expand their support for AMH and its important work.

The gift will make possible life-saving surgery, important infrastructure (such as power and oxygen), advanced medical training, and the creation of a maternal health network of excellence at more than 15 hospitals across Africa.

“A single gift of this magnitude is virtually unheard of in African clinical medicine. This tremendous generosity will enable care for hundreds of thousands of people who would otherwise be without. It will enable training for thousands of healthcare professionals who will collectively provide care to millions of patients in the generation to come. It will sponsor thousands of life-changing surgeries, adding tens of thousands of years of life to mothers who currently lack access to quality healthcare. It will build the systems and infrastructure to strengthen hospitals now by providing services including oxygen, power and many others. This gift, particularly inclusive of the matching funds, will transform African healthcare — and in so doing give the patients who I and my colleagues in Africa serve the quality of life (and life itself) that can only be provided by outstanding medical care and hospitals,” says AMH Chief Executive Dr. Jon Fielder, who has spent two decades as a missionary physician in Africa and co-founded AMH with Mark Gerson.

“We are delighted to honor our Jewish obligation to ‘love the stranger’ by partnering with the people who do so most effectively, efficiently and devotedly: African Christian and missionary doctors working at mission hospitals in Africa,” said Mark Gerson, Co-Founder and Chairman of African Mission Healthcare. “The number of lives that these Christian doctors save and transform per dollar invested — while building the institutions that will amplify care in Africa for generations — is staggering. We, the missionaries and the patients they serve are deeply fortunate to have a friend and partner in UBS, which has been a remarkable partner, and lives its devotion to help those in greatest needs. We hope that the matching component of this gift will encourage more people to further enable these missionary physicians to do their sacred work as the indispensable source of care to millions of people in Africa.”

“UBS Optimus is committed to impactful philanthropy focused on the most pressing social and environmental issues,” said Tom Hall, Managing Director, Global Head of Philanthropy Services at UBS. “Transforming health systems that meet the needs of women, children and others at risk in Africa is also one of the critical priorities of the UBS Optimus Foundation. African Mission Healthcare (AMH) shares these same priorities, and executes with remarkable effectiveness and efficiency. We are very pleased to support the efforts of AMH as they seek to create enduring and improving health systems where everyone in Africa has access to quality, compassionate care.”

Dr. Marty Makary, Chairman of African Mission Healthcare Medical Advisory Board, Professor at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, and author of the New York Times bestseller, Unaccountable and The Price We Pay, had this to say of the announced donation:

“I have seen the work of African Mission Healthcare up close, as the Chairman of its Medical Advisory Board. The sheer excellence of the Christian missionary doctors that African Mission Healthcare partners with, as measured in all of the data and the cases I have seen with AMH, is astonishing. When it comes to these doctors, I think of the statement of Winston Churchill: ‘Never was so much owed by so many to so few.’ If anyone wants to give life and hope to their brothers and sisters in need, African Mission Healthcare is the partner that can most effectively and efficiently turn a donor’s generosity into transformation that will be experienced by people now and their descendants in the generations to come.”

Since its founding in 2010, African Mission Healthcare has invested more than $30 million dollars in training, clinical care and infrastructure projects with 47 mission hospital partners across 16 different countries in Africa. These investments have supported direct care for more than 670,000 patients and will enable more than 9.8 million future patient visits. Additionally, more than 3,000 medical professionals have been trained and 19,000 surgical and corrective procedures have been sponsored.

Dr. Tom Catena, surgeon at Gidel Hospital in the Nuba Mountains of Sudan and winner of the 2019 Gerson L’Chaim Prize, said, “Our hospital is the only referral hospital for over a million people, but without AMH we would close. If AMH’s efforts can be scaled up throughout Africa, the impact will be enormous.” Walker Brumskine, investment professional and co-founder of 127 Holdings, spoke with first hand experience of the importance of AMH’s work. “I grew up in Liberia near one of the hospitals that AMH partners with, and I can assure anyone that helping AMH to strengthen mission hospitals is the single best thing that anyone with a heart for Africa can do.”

The first $9 million in gifts to African Mission Healthcare’s Transforming Healthcare Campaign will be matched by the funds provided by the Gersons and UBS. As a result of the match, a gift of $500,000 can add a training program that makes possible 44,000+ operations, safe anesthesia for 25,000+ surgeries, care for one million patient visits, and mentoring of 1000+ medical students and residents.

Donations to the AMH Transforming Health Campaign, which will run through December 31, can be made in two ways: via the UBS Optimus Foundation or directly to African Mission Healthcare.

Mark Gerson was recently a featured guest on the “UBS On-Air: Conversations” podcast to discuss philanthropy and Judaism, as well as the Gersons’ partnership with UBS on AMH’s Transforming Healthcare campaign.

More info about African Mission Healthcare is available here.

More info about the UBS Optimus Foundation is available here.

— -

Mark Gerson, a devoted Jew, is an entrepreneur and philanthropist who, along with wife, Rabbi Erica Gerson, is the world’s largest individual supporter of Christian medical missions. He is co-founder of African Mission Healthcare, the Gerson Lehrman Group and author of the national bestselling book on the Haggadah, “The Telling: How Judaism’s Essential Book Reveals the Meaning of Life.”

Website | Twitter | @markgerson Podcast | The Rabbi’s Husband

African Mission Healthcare (AMH) strategically partners with Christian mission hospitals to support and propel their mission to provide quality medical care and compassion while encouraging improvements in the Sub-Saharan health system. Africa faces several health care challenges — for example, the continent suffers from 25% of the world’s diseases but houses only 3% of the world’s healthcare workers — and AMH responds to these challenges by strengthening the hospitals that help the most vulnerable.

Website | Twitter | @AfricaMHF
Podcast | @AfricaMHF

The UBS Optimus Foundation is a grant-making foundation that offers UBS clients a platform to use their wealth to drive positive social and environmental change. The Foundation selects programs that improve children’s health, education and protection, ones that have the potential to be transformative, scalable and sustainable as well as programs tackling environmental and climate issues.

Website | Facebook | UBSglobal Twitter | @UBS Instagram | @ubs




We strengthen mission hospitals to aid those in greatest need.