SPHTM Prepares for Disaster Recovery in Haiti

Elizabeth Bellino, a clinical instructor of pediatric infectious diseases and a 1999 MD/MPH graduate, cares for a wounded child in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. (Photo provided by Dr. Elizabeth Bellino)

As the crisis in Haiti moves beyond initial emergency response, Tulane’s School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine prepares to assist in the second phase of disaster recovery. Carl Kendall, professor of international health and development and director of Tulane’s Center for Global Health Equity, has taken the lead in the school’s response. He expects Tulane’s involvement in Haiti’s recovery will likely last for decades. When the earthquake hit, Kendall had active projects in Haiti with the University Technical Assistance Program (UTAP).

Assistance is expected to focus on three key areas: psychosocial support, health systems management, and environmental health. Faculty from both the School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine and the School of Social Work are already working with Ghislaine Adrien, a senior member of the Haitian Ministry of Health, to develop a plan to train Haitian staff in psychosocial assistance.

The health systems management response will consist of two components. To begin, Tulane will assist the ministry in identifying and developing appropriate training curriculum for the health sector. The ministry is also very interested in health management information systems that will allow patient medical history to be secure and accessible in a variety of settings. Wuleta Lemma, deputy director of the Center for Global Health Equity, has experience with this technology through her UTAP work in Ethiopia and is working with several potential donors to develop such a system in Haiti.

The environmental health component, led by Maureen Lichtveld and Joseph Contiguglia, involves working with the ministry to conduct a needs and asset assessment and characterize the hazards of highest priority. They will also establish methods for workforce development in sanitation and other environmental health capacities.

While Adrien and her colleagues were in New Orleans, the task force arranged for them to meet with French Consul Oliver Brochenin, who offered his support. Additionally, the task force met with officials at Superior Energy, a New Orleans based provider of oil-field equipment and services. The company expressed their willingness to donate a mobile clinic for on-site medical accommodations.

Kendall’s team includes Christine Duchatellier-Fowler, country director for the project, and Catherine Alzuphar Nazaire, monitoring and evaluation advisor, both from Haiti. Their next step is to develop an action plan that can be shared with funders at the CDC to ensure approval through the UTAP.

To keep up with the school’s ongoing efforts to assist in Haiti recovery, visit www.sph.tulane.edu/haiti.

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About Tulane University SPHTM

Tulane's School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine is the oldest school of public health in the country and the only American school of tropical medicine. Our mission is to advance public health knowledge, promote health and well-being, and prevent disease, disability, and premature mortality. This is accomplished through academic excellence in education of public health professionals, rigorous scientific research of public health problems, creative partnerships to advance the practice of public health, and innovative service to the local, national, and international public health community.
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