Project HOPE’s Haiti office kicked off a new program aimed at improving Haiti’s undergraduate medical education system on Monday. The HOPE Haiti office is hosting an expert group of Haitian-American medical and academic professionals, coming from a variety of medical field and U.S. institutions, led by Dr. Henri Ford, Vice President and Surgeon-in-Chief of Los Angeles Children’s Hospital, and Vice Dean of Medical Education at the Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California.
Monday began with a visit to Haiti’s largest teaching hospital, L’Hôpital Université d’Etat d’Haïti (HUEH), in central Port-au-Prince, where the team was joined by a delegation from the Association of Faculties of Medicine of Canada (AFMC), who will be working hand-in-hand with the Project HOPE team throughout the program. Team members met with the dean of HEUH, faulty members, and representatives from the Haitian Ministry of Health to discuss the current state of health care education at the state school, current challenges and future goals. The team members concluded the meeting with took a tour of the ongoing construction project to improve the medical school’s facilities which were severely damaged in the 2010 earthquake, including the total destruction of the nursing school, which took the lives of the entire nursing class.
Later that evening, Project HOPE hosted an event at the Hotel Kinam in Petionville, attended by the U.S. and Canadian delegations, the Minister of Health, the deans of the four medical schools, and multiple partners from the international community. While the evening provided for new partnerships and renewed friendships, it was clear to all present that the challenges ahead were significant, including an aging faculty, growing apathy among students, shortages in equipment and supplies, and a widespread lack of infrastructure.
Despite the myriad challenges ahead, the Project HOPE team remains optimistic as they try to translate small, early successes – like bringing all of the Deans together to establish and strive for common goals – into tangible results. As Dr, Ford said to conclude the evening, “We’re committed to delivering a strong program that will strengthen the Haitian medical education system, and as a result will also produce tangible improvements for the health of the entire Haitian population, through the dedicated and determined work of our group, with the help of our Canadian partners, and in direct coordination with Haitian medical education community.”
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