The medical field is constantly changing, with new advances and discoveries every day. It’s important for practicing medical professionals to keep up, and training doesn’t end with medical school. Continuing medical education (CME) refers to a wide variety of educational activities done by practicing physicians after their formal medical school and residency training years. Medical school and other formal training teaches physicians how to care for patients, address societal needs, and be good colleagues (i.e., teaching, administration and leadership); the objective of CME is to maintain these professional standards.
CME activities and required participation are standardized in North America and other countries with a high standard of medical care. (For more information, see the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education.) The public sector and medical societies in Haiti have a strong understanding of the importance of standardized CME, and the HME Project is honored to have been invited to work towards that goal, bridging international resources and available templates, Haitian medical practitioners, educators, governmental bodies, and other NGOs.
Cardiovascular Disease Education Initiative
Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is known to be a major cause of non-communicable disease death in developing countries, and Haiti is no exception. CVD is the number one cause of death in Haiti, accounting for 24.4% of all registered deaths. The prevalence of CVD in Haiti is not new — persistent poverty and inadequate health care have made it a fact of life. What is new, however, is the deadly fallout of the earthquake on January 12, 2010, leading to an increase in CVD. Post-earthquake, what insufficient medical resources previously existed to treat CVD have largely been diverted to the treatment of injury and infectious disease outbreaks, and attention to CVD has fallen by the wayside. In addition, the earthquake exacerbated factors that contribute to CVD progression: reduced access to nutritious food, a devastated health care system, and less income to pay for treatment can mean that symptoms of heart disease go ignored and untreated.
The key to reversing this deadly tide is education, which HME is planning to provide with our Cardiovascular Disease Education Initiative. Proven effective methods for treatment and prevention of CVD exist already — they need only be taught and implemented to have a profound effect on the quality of life for thousands of Haitians. Creating more and better educational opportunities for physicians and community health workers is of vital importance, as is community education about simple, life-saving interventions and cost-free lifestyle changes. Educating healthcare professionals, promoting community health awareness, and advocating on behalf of those who have little or no access to health care with ensure that our cardiovascular disease education initiative will be of the highest quality.
We have structured our initiative to include both physician training and community health worker/patient education, so that it will have the broadest possible impact on the state of Haitian cardiovascular care. With our established network of Haitian and North American partner organizations, relationships with Haitian medical schools and the Ministry of Health, and combined reserve of experience in both teaching medicine and administering medical care, HME is eager to present this desperately needed CVD education initiative.
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