Howard University > Howard University Health Sciences in Haiti 2012

Howard University Completes Medical Mission to Haiti

WASHINGTON (July 3) -- Howard University, in conjunction with the New York chapter of the National Organization for the Advancement of Haitians (NOAH) and the Haitian American Alliance, recently completed an ambitious medical mission to help the people of Haiti.

The University sent 25 doctors and medical students to Haiti from June 25 to July 1 to provide much-needed medical care and clinical training as part of a new International Medicine Service Learning Rotation.  Another 10 College of Medicine students and one student from the College of Dentistry joined the group on their own to help.

They worked with Haitian and non-Haitian physicians from New York, nursing students and nurses from the University of Colorado and about 50 non-medical volunteers to help the people in one of the world’s poorest nations.

The team operated in the city of Fort-Liberté, which is on the northeastern border and serves the residents of the city and the smaller communities nearby, an area of about 20,000 residents.

Aside from providing medical care, Howard physicians taught Haitian health care providers the latest medical techniques in various fields.  The team consisted of doctors from the departments of obstetrics and gynecology, internal medicine, pediatrics and pathology.

The team included second-, third- and four-year students from the College of Medicine as well as medical residents who are doing their post-graduate work at Howard University Hospital.

The visit, the third sponsored by Howard for its physicians, is part of the hospital’s and the university’s mission to serve the underserved.  This year, the visit has been formalized in a four-week class, International Medicine Service Learning Rotation, said Dr. Shelly McDonald-Pinkett, interim chair of the Department of Medicine at Howard University College of Medicine and Howard University Hospital and the creator of the program inside the college.

“This is also an excellent opportunity for our students to learn more about medicine and to truly understand our mission, to serve the underserved,” McDonald-Pinkett said.

Howard has been assisting Haiti since shortly after the earthquake hit in 2010.  Each year since, Howard undergraduate students have been working on the island as part of Alternative Spring Break.

In 2010, Howard University Hospital donated an ambulance to the Fort-Liberté Hospital that was shipped to the island nation by NOAH  That same year, Dr. Onyinye Onyekwere from the Department of Pediatrics was sent to Haiti by the hospital’s medical staff to help.  The following year, the medical staff sponsored Dr. Roxanne Smith-White from Internal Medicine.

Dr. Henry R. Paul, nephrologist, assistant professor of Medicine at SUNY Downstate and president of NOAH NY, is leading the team.  NOAH NY hopes to eventually help construct a new hospital in Fort-Liberté.

The area has a desperate need for health care support.  Currently, the area has only a handful of physicians for thousands of residents who often cannot afford the cost of health care.

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Stories and Photograhs by Ron Harris, Howard University