Haiti Rehabilitation Therapy Team (140503HAPT)
Haiti has a history of being unstable and is currently in economic decline. It has been ranked by the United Nations as the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere and the only country in the Latin America and Caribbean region on the UN’s list of Least Developed Countries. The United Nations Development Program estimates that nearly 80 percent of Haitians live on less than $2 per day and 55% of the total population lives under $1.25 per day.
There were approximately 800,000 disabled persons in Haiti before the 7.0-magnitude earthquake that rocked southern Haiti on January 12, 2010. It has been estimated that about 300,000 additional people became disabled as a result of the earthquake.
Life is challenging for those with disabilities in Haiti. Often they are unable to fully participate in social and economic activities due to the strong stigma associated with having a disability. For those who would be able to be reintegrated with physical rehabilitation, limited access to therapy and other rehabilitation services can restrict their ability to pursue care. It is estimated that there are only a couple of dozen trained professional Haitian physical therapists.
This team of will focus on providing direct care and preventing disability alongside our Advantage Rehabilitation staff, help provide training to locals in rehabilitation care, and just as importantly learn about rehabilitation in a foreign context where resources are limited.
Greatest benefit this specific team will bring:
This team will benefit the physically disabled in Haiti by helping our staff fill the gap in rehabilitation care within the Haitian health care system by providing direct care, empowering the disable to engage in daily life, and building the local capacity to care for and include the physically disabled in all aspects society.
Challenges you expect they may encounter:
- Developing an understanding of the cultural perceptions related to disabilities.
- In many of our cases, our clinic is the first entry point into the health system quite the opposite of what professionals experience in the US and some other countries.
- Working in a cross-cultural setting with multiple languages. The Haitians on staff speak primarily Creole, French, Spanish and English. Patients often only speak Creole.
- The environment in which the team may lack resources that they commonly have available in the States.
- Often US professionals specialize in a particular of care, the nature of rehab in Haiti stretches those who have specialized to recall many of the generalist skills acquired prior to taking up a specialty.
- The urban and rural terrains and settings may pose greater challenges to the patients and require unique solutions.
- Patients and families often travel great distances to reach the clinic and find a place to stay while visiting the clinics. The costs of travel may limit the time patients have to receive care.
Allison Wehunt and Erica Walling.