On April 16, 2018, an article titled “Inside the Effort to Improve Emergency Care in Haiti” was published by Spiegel, a German weekly news magazine. It featured HME among other groups as examples of current medical education and training initiatives that are improving the healthcare sector in Haiti. The article also includes a video interview with Dr. Galit Sacajiu, HME’s founder and Medical Education Director. We asked the author, Alexis Ward, to share some thoughts on his experience writing this article:
Q: What prompted you to write an article on this topic?
A: I had spent 8 months in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake, working with MSF (Drs. Without Borders) in a field hospital. I arrived a few days before the first cholera outbreak in Fall of 2010. My job was in hospital logistics, but I had a lot of contact with medical staff and patients. I learned a bit about how medical care is delivered in Haiti, and the enormous problems which patients face if they are poor, even under normal conditions, when there is no earthquake or cholera epidemic.Later, back in the US, I heard from Haitian friends about the difficulties which they or family members faced in case of illness or accident. Even seemingly minor problems sometimes turned deadly serious due to lack of money to pay for treatment. Haiti seemed to be a good example of the problems in accessing medical care which people in many poor countries face, only Haiti is a more extreme example. I found this particularly tragic and ironic because of all the aid money from international organizations which flowed into Haiti after the earthquake. After the damage done by Hurricane “Matthew” in 2016, and the flurry of media attention which that disaster produced, I decided to gather first-hand information about why medical care – and especially emergency medical care – is so inadequate in Haiti.
Q: How did you come across HME’s work?
A: I met Galit because our children attended the same school, and learned about her work with HME.
Q: How did HME assist you in writing this article?
A: I coordinated my reporting trips to Haiti to coincide with some of the CALS courses being conducted in Hinche and Cap Haitien in 2017. I wanted to speak with Haitian medical professionals and hear about their experiences and the daily challenges they face while delivering emergency medicine. Everyone I interviewed was very helpful and answered my questions candidly. The instructors let me record their classroom presentations and the practical skills training sessions. I was very impressed with the enthusiasm and commitment of everyone I interviewed.
Q: After your research, what do you think the future holds for healthcare in Haiti?
A: I am certain that the healthcare delivery situation in Haiti will improve gradually, but it will take a more unified effort by Haitian medical professionals both in Haiti and in the diaspora. HME is playing a key role in focusing on improved educational standards in medicine – especially in emergency medicine. But better Continuing Medical Education is only part of the picture. Access to affordable medical care is a problem in many countries – including the USA. Any attempt at improving the situation for all of any country’s citizens inevitably becomes a political issue in that country.