My first step into the humanitarian world
Finally, after months of preparation, our team of four osteopaths landed on Haiti in Port-Au-Prince for a 2 week mission (March 8 to March 22, 2017). It took 3 hours to reach Deschapelles from the airport and finally discover the guest house located right next to the Hospital Albert Schweitzer (HAS).
The purpose of this mission was to establish with HAS a long term “win-win-win partnership”. As described by Eric Archambault (chief osteopath and creator of the project) and Louis Martin (HAS C.E.O.) the three tiered benefits are:
- Haitian population benefits from osteopathic treatments at the Hospital (internal and external consultations) and also at the dispensaries
- Hospital staff benefit from osteopathic sessions as well and also osteopathic knowledge with courses for rehabilitation staff and presentations for doctors
- Osteopaths benefit from experiencing the place of the osteopathy in a hospital environment and working in conjunction with other medical and paramedical staff
Our goal is to inform the medical world through practical application, what Osteopathy is, what Osteopathy can really do and what the benefits of having osteopaths as part of a healthcare team in a hospital are.
During our stay, we completed more than 200 consultations, 5 presentations during the morning meetings with the HAS medical staff and taught 6 courses. I, myself, led two presentations: The left kidney: osteopathic manipulations and effects and Differences between Osteopathy, Chiropractic and Physiotherapy. I also taught one course to the physiotherapists about the approach of the cranio-cervical junction and taught another one for the technicians (physio assistants) about the treatment of the meniscus of the knee. We were happy to find interested and assiduous students as well as doctors who wanted to be trained to certain osteopathic techniques because they saw the potential applications in their everyday practices.
In the mountainous regions, people need to walk very long distances to reach the hospital and sometimes are not able to do so. Thankfully, HAS created several dispensaries to efficiently web its surrounding territory. They also added a “home-visit” service to increase the accessibility of healthcare. We spent one day in the dispensary and we visited a few homes to provide osteopathic consultations.
It was a real honor and a pleasure to work with HAS and we look forward to future shared projects. To give more explanations, this organisation is doing really brilliant and aspirational work that not only helps Haiti by providing Healthcare but also by promoting local talents. The hospital employees are 95% Haitians, one of the main goals is to “Attract, train and retain qualified Haitian professional staff”. This aspiration should be a long term objective for all humanitarian organizations.
It was my first step into humanitarian world and I thank Eric Archambault, Louis Martin and also Dr. Sannon (Medical Director) who made it possible. I met unbelievable people that were compassionate, open hearted souls that simply give of their time and selves to serve others. It made this experience a unique and wonderful journey where I could get to know another culture and explore human relationships. I am very grateful that I have had the opportunity to share my passion for osteopathy all around the world and now to very wide range of people in Haiti.