In July, Project HOPE began a “Prehospital Emergency Response Program” in Petit-Goâve, 40 miles west of Haiti’s capital city, Port-au-Prince. The goal of the program is to lay the foundation for a community-based, prehospital care system, with the goal of significantly improving outcomes for a range of urgent conditions. One component of the program is HOPE’s partnership with the Haiti Responses, a local NGO, through which HOPE is training local community members on best practice responses to emergency situations.
Based on the World Health Organization’s Prehospital Trauma Care System Guidelines, Project HOPE’s program in Petit-Goâve is designed to improve care in the field by training community groups as layperson first responders to provide basic emergency medical care and transportation in a range of emergency situations, including motor vehicle crashes and other traumatic injuries, emergency childbirth, cholera and multi-casualty incidents – all of which currently contribute to high incidences of preventable death and disability in Haiti. The program is taught by Haitian medical professionals using locally developed educational materials and is driven by the needs of the community at large.
Project HOPE’s Prehospital Emergency Care Program was created in response to a significant gap that has long existed in the Haitian health care system, but was only recently recognized and addressed by the Norwegian Red Cross (NRC) in Petit-Goâve after the January 2010 earthquake. Following the quake, the NRC established Petit-Goâve’s first-ever emergency room at the local Notre Dame Hospital, but In July 2011, the NRC transitioned operations to the local community. At that time, Project HOPE undertook this new initiative to link prehospital care with the ER through training, provision of supplies, and improved coordination.
Emergency care has long been overlooked in developing countries because it is viewed as a costly service that only affluent countries can afford. Through its work with Haiti Responses, Notre Dame Hospital, and other community groups, HOPE is showing that emergency care programs are not only cost-effective, but that they can also significantly improve outcomes for a range of emergency situations – and even save lives – simply by improving on-the-spot access to basic health care services. Future programs are currently being planned with surrounding communities, as HOPE looks to create an emergency care and referral corridor linking Les Cayes and Petit-Goâve in the Southern departments.
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