The mission of my work is to improve the health of rural Haitians and the death toll imposed on them by the constraints of poverty. My goals are to mobilize communities in Haiti by empowering Haitians to take control over their own health. Through education, I am equipping them with the tools they need to save their own lives. These efforts are most important in rural Haiti where there are few if no doctors and where the people themselves are there own medical community. The goals are to educate Haitian youth to become leaders in their own communities as trained community health workers by collaborating with non-profits committed to improving the health of Haitians.
Using several medical texts and drawing largely on the expertise of doctors both in and out of Haiti, I designed a 3-month public health training course to develop a working public health team of youth. The program has since graduated 16 young adults. As community health workers, they have helped teach health education classes for thousands of villagers, perform mass treatment programs for scabies and ringworm, and administer TB and malaria medications using directly-observed therapy, among many other things. Aside from engaging the community in public health issues, and providing sustainable methods of treatment for hundreds of people, these youth have become leaders in their communities and looked upon with incredible respect. Their work is inspiring to their peers as can be seen in the long list of young adults waiting for their chance to join the public health group.
In order to reach the greatest number of people and make the greatest difference, I've begun partnering with other large non-profit organizations in Haiti to strengthen their public health programs and expand my training program to other regions of the country. My most recent partnership is with Hope For Haiti (H4H).
My short-term goals include working with Hope For Haiti staff in identifying the areas in which can be strengthened with programs in preventative medicine education. My other goals include continued fundraising and mobilization of the Brown community. To identify doctors, public health and medical students interested in working in Haiti as teaching staff for the public health training program. My long-term goals include identifying key partnerships with other organizations throughout Haiti, while focusing efforts on Hope For Haiti which can benefit from the strengths of the public health program, both in regards to the training and employment of community health workers.
The Global Health Initiative at Brown Medical School has committed to supporting my continued work in Haiti with small travel grants so that I may continue to have an active presence in Haiti while still in medical school. My immediate goal for the public health program is to identify the parts that are adaptable to other regions in Haiti. The program I have already developed and the team that I have trained is specific to the southwestern region. For this reason, Hope For Haiti, whose presence is great in the region, would aid in spreading the importance of education as a means of preventative medicine, to over a dozen villages.
My training program is the only one like it in the southwestern region of the country and has quickly become a model for public health education. Recognizing that prevention is by far the most cost-effective and sure way of eliminating the diseases endemic to this country and the unnecessary deaths that are the result, I am working to introduce the program to every region of the country.
By teaching local volunteers information about a variety of issues including hygiene, sanitation, nutrition, and water quality, along with testing, treatment, and prevention strategies aimed at reducing the incidence of diseases common in the area, countless lives are being saved and communities of people are being empowered.
**Public Health Program Updates
In November 2010 we began the 1-year training program with our 24 newly selected leaders from 12 rural communities who have been nominated by the school directors in their villages as ideal candidates to become community health workers (CHWs). The 2-day lesson which included 16 hours of lessons, skits, activities, presentations, demonstrations and songs focused on the first four chapters of the public health training program; Communication, Nutrition, Bodily Hygiene and Oral Hygiene. The six module-training program is designed to teach one module every two months over the span of one year. Every 2 months, the 24 CHWs in training return from their villages to the HFH office in Charpentier for an intensive 2-day training module. Each of the participants take a pre and post test and must all pass in order to have successfully completed the module. In the two-month period in between the training modules they must conduct a minimum amount of school-based lessons per month at their school and complete all relevant reporting forms. They are expected to maintain a positive working relationship with the school director in their community in creating a safe, cohesive learning space for the students at their school. Each are equipped with CHW training kits with supplies that they can use to teach their lesson plans.
The program’s goal is for each child in the pilot program schools to receive one hour of Public Health instruction per week. This is a minimum standard. If they wish to teach more sessions per week, they are strongly encouraged to do so. Each time they teach a lesson, they record details about the session on the School Lesson Reporting Form, which they and their School Director will sign. They have two months to teach all of the themes in each Module to the school. They are asked to teach at least one activity along with each theme. The lessons take place during school hours, during the school week. There is no need to teach lessons on the weekend or when school is not in session.
For now, the program will only teach children attending the Hope for Haiti supported partner school in each target community. No formal health lessons are approved to be given to anyone other than the children attending this partner school. However, they are encouraged to share information with their friends, families and neighbors, as this is an important part of making community health promotion successful. The starting stipend for the CHWs is $25/month but this may go up as we continue to define the responsibilities and duties of the CHWs.***