Nearly 5 years following the massive earthquake that damaged the island nation of Haiti on January 12, 2010, the Haitian health care system remains mired in a state of poor infrastructure coupled with a significant shortage of doctors and nurses. In our nearly 90 minute treacherous drive from the airport to where we are staying in Bonheur, Mirebalais, Dr. Toni Hayes, President of Regis College and a key sponsor to the Health eVillages program in Haiti, educates me on the stark reality that while the United States has an average of 200 Nurses per 100,000 people, the ratio in Haiti is 11 per 100,000. The ratio does not improve with physicians where the numbers are overwhelming – 1 doctor per 4,000 lives compared to the U.S. where the average physicians has about a 1500 patient population. My mind is forced to ponder with such a vast shortage of nurses and doctors, how can we possibly address the problem that 1 Billion people will go to their graves prematurely because they never had access to a healthcare worker? And then Dr. Hayes evokes the great work of Doctors Without Borders (DWB). It is encouraging to know that Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), which was present in the country before the earthquake and responded with its largest-ever emergency relief effort, continues to manage four hospitals that were built to replace temporary structures the organization set up immediately after the initial disaster, which destroyed most of the existing health structures in the impact zone. Tens of thousands of Haitians have received free, high-quality health care at these facilities, but it’s unlikely that MSF will be able to hand over the management of these hospitals to Haitian authorities any time soon.
The inadequate response to the recurrent cholera epidemic—the other catastrophe that first struck Haiti in 2010—signifies the delays in the recovery of the country’s health system. For three years now, cholera has struck Haitians in unforgiving waves. In 2012 alone, MSF treated nearly 23,000 cholera victims in cholera treatment centers in Port-au-Prince and Léogâne. The number of cases increased after Hurricanes Isaac and Sandy hit Haiti last fall, causing sewers to overflow and spreading the bacteria that transmit the disease. I am told that the majority of the population lacks access to drinking water and proper sanitation and as I am writing down my thoughts hours following my arrival to our hotel, I anxiously await our drive tomorrow morning where I am told that we will pass through areas where the access to water is saturated with waste and other contaminants that make the drinking water untenable.
The one refreshing moment throughout this evening is the expression of hope gleaned from the Nurse Educators (who are accompany the HeV team in this visit) responsible for implementing the Health eVillages program. They share with us their own stories behind the value they have observed with the OMNIO Medical APP in helping the few Nurses in active duty reach a vast population with information that is critical to saving lives. Their one and only concern – 1 device in a Hospital is not adequate in reaching all of the departments housed in one setting. We agree and so – we ask – what do you need? Their answer is quick yet powerful – 7 more devices with content – specific to the respective department would have a profound impact in empowering Nurses. Problem solved! The HeV Team – Dom and Katie will proceed forward to secure the devices and download the precise content.
It’s a great feeling to retire for the day knowing that Physicians Interactive and Health eVillages are making a difference by doing small things that trigger extraordinary large and meaningful outcomes. Thank you!!!
Donato J. Tramuto
CEO & Chairman
Physicians Interactive Holdings