University of Texas medical students join Project Medishare’ s community healther workers in Thomonde
By Beth Melia
Thomonde, HAITI-On our first full day in Thomonde, we conducted home visits with Project Medishare’s community health workers. They showed us their daily routine of checking up on patients, which gave us an opportunity to see the regular Haitian home-life and learn the basic medical needs of rural Haitians.
Highlights of the day included learning how the sugarcane is processed here in Haiti, seeing patients with unusual cardiac conditions, and appreciating the overwhelming hospitality of the Haitian people. We were openly welcomed into their homes, and warmly embraced.
Many of our reflections of the day have centered on the differences in access to healthcare and technology between our own country and Haiti. The exams and labs that we are dependent upon in the US are inaccessible here in Haiti, and thus treatment requires stronger clinical skills. Noticing this reinforces the importance of thorough clinical training as we approach our third year of medical school.
The stark contrast in differential diagnosis and in care giving call for more creativity in treatment courses and reinforces the importance of collaboration with community healthcare workers. It was clear from our visit today that the community healthcare workers are integral in making this system work. Their impact is far-reaching and goes well beyond a simple check-up. Not only are these workers the most informed about the individual healthcare needs of their community, but their rapport with the community allows them to promote basic health education such as nutrition and personal hygiene. This simple concept of health promotion via community healthcare workers could enhance medical care even in our own country. We are excited about conducting mobile health clinics over the next three days, and are curious to see what ailments will be the most prevalent. We hope and know that as we do so we will gain a greater appreciation for the Haitian people and culture.