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Frying Pan, to Fire

My title refers to the populations around me rather than to myself, though I will say that Haiti is much hotter than Hyderabad (presently – I am given to understand that this not always the case).

After an amazing trip to Hyderabad and a brief stint in Boston, I am now in Fond-des-Blancs Haiti at the St Boniface Hospital where my NGO, Physicians for Haiti, has been working for the last 3 years.

Map of Haiti, courtesy of the St Boniface Haiti Health Foundation

I had occasion on my arrival to go north to Mirebalais and see the new hospital there built by Zamni Lasante/Partners in Health/MSPP (Haitian Ministry of Health), which marks the first rural teaching hospital in the country, as well as a range of other firsts (first capable of being entirely powered via solar panels; first CT scanner in the public sector (and only 5th in the country!); largest hospital in rural Haiti). I went there to attend a portion of the Brigham’s Global Health Equity Residency training that they run for new residents (and, these days, fellows in a range of global health/hospital medicine programs), which was an excellent occasion to see a number of friends in the field as well as to meet a whole host of new ones.

As my prior post’s figure showed, Haiti has an impressively smaller per capita GDP than India, which is reflected both within the infrastructure of the country as well as the goods accessible to the population, both material and healthcare-related.

GDP per capita and life expectancy

GDP per capita and life expectancy

Life expectancy differs less than you might think it would, perhaps reflecting that the life of the poor in either country is not markedly different.  Here in rural Haiti, the immediate patients are largely farmers, though the hospital gets a number of people come from towns across Southern Haiti, reflecting both the high quality care as well as the low cost of this foundation-supported institution.

A range of further thoughts, but I’ll leave it at that, in an effort to make myself actually work on the papers that I’m supposed to be doing!  I will say that I’ve developed plantar fascitis (another first!) and am impressed at how painful it can be.  Live and learn; another point of empathy over sympathy for my patients yet to come.

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