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Can you recommend a resource for training medical volunteers who visit remote villages in Haiti?

By Robert Spitz | 17 Nov, 2008

I am a gynecologist in the U.S. and have just returned from my 4th trip to Haiti working with the Haitian Health Foundation (HHF) in Jeremie. Primarily, my work has been at their center in the city of Jeremie where they provide obstetrical care and maintain a unit where high risk women from surrounding villages can come during their last month of pregnancy so that they can deliver where there is medical care. Training of local health workers and midwives has helped to identify these high risk women, and the program is continually expanding to more remote villages.

HHF has made good progress in delivering Akimil (ground rice,bean, corn mixture) to villages where malnutrition has been rampant. They are now sending Haitian trained nurses and U.S. medical volunteers to these villages as well, on an occasional basis, to provide obstetrical and general medical care. On my recent trip I spent most of my time in these villages and recognized the need for more organization and training for the U.S. medical volunteers. My fear is that a two or three day visit to a village by well-meaning, but unprepared medical professionals has the potential to do as much harm as good. Current HHF staff members have their hands full with their established programs, so I think it is unlikely that they will be able to establish a program to train volunteers, or to identify priorities regarding what to treat in the villages. I do think, though, that they would be very receptive to proposals from doctors such as myself who have volunteered there. I am sure that others have set-up programs utilizing medical volunteers from the States, or elsewhere, and I am hopeful that they have published what has worked for them. Any guidance regarding where to find this info would be greatly appreciated.

Bob Spitz

 

This Community is Archived.

This community is no longer active as of December 2018. Thanks to those who posted here and made this information available to others visiting the site.