Research Program Helping to Build a Healthier Haiti

January 22, 2019

Imagine going to your annual checkup and having your doctor proclaim that you have hypertension… without taking your blood pressure. The blood pressure is the “data” that your doctor needs to make sound diagnosis and treatment recommendations. In the same way, good data are needed to guide interventions to improve the quality of care patients receive from health facilities.

Medical residents at Justinian University Hospital (JUH) in Cap-Haitien, Haiti, are required to submit a research paper in order to graduate. We, along with the JUH leadership, hope this could be far more than an academic exercise for them; that it could have a positive impact for the hospital.

Last fall, Konbit Sante, in partnership with the Haiti Medical Education (HME) project, City University of New York (CUNY) staff, and JUH faculty, launched a 10-month pilot resident training program focusing on conducting research from A to Z—from forming a research question to evaluating the data collected and proposing solutions based on those data. The focus is on acquiring new skills that can help healthcare providers answer practical questions about the care they are providing in their daily work.

The course is led by Dr. Nancy Sohler, an epidemiologist and professor at CUNY; Dr. Adrien Demes, Konbit Sante’s director in Cap-Haitien; Dr. Geto Dube, executive director of JUH; and Konbit Sante Executive Director Dr. Nate Nickerson. In addition to the course faculty, volunteer content experts are paired with the research groups to help them better design and interpret the data they collect.

We are four months into the course, and there are 40 active learners working in groups on 12 projects. Formal classes are held once a month at JUH, and there are many opportunities for group and individual mentoring sessions in between.

The hope is that the research program for JUH residents will not only make them more skilled health providers and leaders but that the research collected will provide insight into issues of care at JUH and identify practical solutions to address those issues. What’s more, the residents will have the skills necessary to conduct sound research in the future, further benefiting the hospital and the communities that they serve.

It’s another example of how, by walking together in this “konbit,” we are able to enact change—not only for now but for the future.

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