Is rural health care in Haiti sexy? Right now, the world cares because of an uncanny combination of natural disasters (earthquake and hurricane) and a severe cholera epidemic.
For three days now, our small group from Jewish Healthcare International and Houston Haiti Relief Initiative have examined what is truly sexy about rural healthcare in Haiti. Namely, people doing whatever they can to help their neighbors live today and tomorrow a little better. Not too worried about next year if we can make progress next month.
Today, our group of five volunteers, Dr’s “Steve, Rich, Paul, Manesha, and Adam” worked again for hours in a small rural clinic closed to the outside world for 4 months of the rainy season and accessible only by foot or four wheel drive vehicle the rest of the time. In the Savane plate clinic, we saw patients with broken bones poorly healed, strokes not fully treated, little dentition, poor access to care and even worse continuity of care. With the leadership of our dedicated community host, Medishare, we put a needed, effective and meaningful band aid on a wound.
The disease itself needs long term solutions. Yes to economic development, yes to roads, yes to collaborations, yes to more money and resources. The work on the ground may seem as slow as the oh my gosh really awful traffic right now in Port-au-Prince, but rebirth appears everywhere out of the rubble and destruction. Don’t believe in only doom and gloom on CNN. Believe in new energy, ideas and relationships.
Today, our group of five shares preliminary thoughts of how two small U.S. NGO’s can work with two or more large and successful Hatian NGO’s and the government to make small gains, particularly for rural Hatians.
Dr. Paul– primary care missions to rural areas with training and teaching; mobile eye care program and glasses; improved access to specialists on regional basis.
Dr. Steve– special needs like improved pharmaceuticals, improvements in surgical subspecialty equipment; training programs to improve local capacity; more funding to rural care.
Dr. Rich– improvements in family planning; prenatal care and obstetrics, focused specialty and subspecialty teams for training and delivery; meet needs expressed by rural NGO like Project Medishare.
Dr. Adam– Keep it simple and meet expressed needs; improve systems to increase access and continuity of care; training to increase capacity; several small continous quality improvement ideas; all volunteers to learn some creole.
Dr. Manesha– training for midwives and prenatal providers; delivery kits for home births; greater accessibilty to regional centers for high risk obstetrics; improved prenatal nutrition.
Some of these ideas may resonate with existing Hatian NGO’s and the government. Some may not. All require our commitment to sustainable change.
Your thoughts? Come visit Haiti, send and spend some money, create your own sexy stories, and make your own small contributions. If you’re lucky like us, you will work with a great Haitian and volunteer team and make many new friends.