Project HOPE, US and Canadian experts to probe Haiti’s health care worker training crisis

Millwood, VA , July 20, 2011

A high-powered team of experts from some of North America’s finest medical schools and health systems, working with Project HOPE, a global health education and humanitarian assistance organization, have launched a comprehensive study into Haiti’s long-term health care training needs. Haiti continues to struggle following last year’s earthquake, which devastated its medical infrastructure and spawned a multitude of health emergencies, including multiple cholera outbreaks.

Experts from Project HOPE, doctors and academics from top universities, and the Department of Health and Human Services, will be led by Haitian-American, Dr. Henri Ford, Vice President and Chief of Surgery at Children’s Hospital in Los Angeles. Dr. Louis Sullivan, former Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and current Project HOPE Board member, co-chairs the task force. The steering committee includes a delegation from the Government Relations and External Affairs Association of Faculties of Medicine of Canada.  The group is working together with Haiti’s Ministry of Public Health and Population to find practical solutions to improve health education.  It will conduct a study during its week-long trip as part of an effort to establish a blueprint for a major teaching hospital called for by UN Special Envoy and former US President Bill Clinton and the Haitian government.

Haiti’s capacity to train and support a new generation of doctors, nurses and health workers has been severely compromised by last year’s quake, which destroyed many hospitals, clinics and teaching facilities, raising the worrying prospect that the disaster’s impact could be felt in the lives of its people for years to come. 

“There is an urgent need to improve undergraduate medical education for health professionals in Haiti, who are struggling to meet patients’ health care needs.  Our goal is to find ways to leverage the expertise and technology, which are key to health education in the U.S. and Canada, to facilitate the needs of health professionals in Haiti,” said Dr. Henri Ford, who is also Vice-Dean, Medical Education and Professor and Vice Chair for Clinical Affairs in the Department of Surgery, Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California.

“Our steering committee, with the support of Project HOPE and direct coordination of the Canadian delegation, is committed to delivering a strong program that will strengthen the Haitian medical education system, but will also produce tangible results for the health of the population,” Dr. Ford said.

Project HOPE, which specializes in building long-term capacity after the initial shock of manmade or natural disasters has passed, has left a rich legacy of health infrastructure around the world, helping to establish hospitals and clinics, train health care professionals and assess needs in places as diverse as China and Iraq. 

“Project HOPE’s emphasis has always been on efficient, effective, and sustainable solutions. Haiti has much to gain from the collaborative efforts of the team we have assembled in Haiti to assess the critical educational needs of Haiti’s medical students and professionals,” said John P. Howe III, M.D., President and CEO of Project HOPE.    

The team will conduct site visits and be briefed by Haiti’s university deans as it assesses the state of resources in Haiti available to educate doctors and nurses, as well as examine the state of current facilities in the wake of last year’s quake, which left 1.5 million people homeless. 

The team will also examine and produce recommendations on funding options to support and sustain proposed teaching facilities and focus specifically on educational needs as they relate to physicians, nurses, and allied health professionals. 

Last month, Project HOPE deployed medical volunteers to Haiti to address a resurgence of cholera in the country.  HOPE volunteers cared for patients and trained local health care professionals on the diagnosis and treatment of cholera patients and the prevention of cholera among hospital staff. 

About Project HOPE
Founded in 1958, Project HOPE (Heath Opportunities for People Everywhere) is dedicated to providing lasting solutions to health crises, with the mission of helping people to help themselves. Identifiable to many by the SS HOPE, the world’s first peacetime hospital ship, Project HOPE now conducts land-based medical training and health education programs in 36 countries across five continents.

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Geraldine Carroll  Tel. 540.257.3746

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