Wednesday, January 11, 2012

medicine moving forward in Haiti

Though world stood still, things moving forward in Haiti

The link above is to an interview with a University of Chicago doctor who is starting a medical residency program through Partners in Health.  Its launch date coincides with the second anniversary of the earthquake tomorrow.   He sounds like as interesting, multi-talented man: not only does he have medical experience, but also his connection with Haiti began with a stint teaching music here in the 1990's.  It's precisely that kind of breadth that helps to connect people more effectively, and he obviously has his priorities in order.

God willing, we will see this program grow along with others like it.  And I hope, too, that living conditions in Haiti will become such that more good doctors will stay here rather than moving abroad.

I am also sure that the part of this which involves American doctors spending six months here will be a wonderful learning experience for those doctors, as well.  I remember reading about medical students and doctors coming here after the quake and finding out quickly that they were far too reliant on technology, labs, and good equipment; they had to learn to get back to or develop basic diagnostic and treatment skills fast.  And there are certainly many other things they will learn here.  It will be good for everyone.

The conclusion of the article:

As he rode through the city, he said that though the main roads have been cleared of debris and makeshift tents, none of the buildings housing the ministries of health and interior or the Supreme Court have been rebuilt. The landscape has gaping holes and, for miles, bears little resemblance to the Haiti he remembers back when he first arrived in 1996 as a music teacher.

Much work remains in Haiti, including stemming a cholera epidemic that began in October 2010, and continues with about 600 new cases a day. Lyon has been working with a human rights organization that's investigating the cause of the epidemic, which, as of Dec. 25, had killed at least 7,001 Haitians, according to the Haitian Ministry of Health.

Despite all of this, there are signs of hope.

Lyon said one example is a new residency program that was launched this week at a hospital Partners In Health runs with its Haitian sister organization Zanmi Lasante in St. Marc, about 50 miles north of Port-au-Prince.

"Of all the work that needs to be done here, this is entirely optimistic," Lyon said.

He said the program will teach Haitian doctors how to be family practice physicians.

As part of the program, Lyon and other physicians will conduct classes over the Internet and travel to Haiti to teach. The University of Chicago also will start a one- to two-year fellowship in which trained doctors will work and teach in Haiti for about six months a year.

"Two years after the complete destruction of the main hospital and medical school, we're making progress, although it never feels fast enough," he said. "Within a year, a new national teaching hospital (built by Partners in Health and Haiti's Ministry of Health) will open. It's a nice way to think about the anniversary. Despite the many challenges ahead, we're moving forward."

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