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An Experiential Commentary: IHI Mission Trip to Haiti

IHI embarked on its first mission trip to Haiti in January 2019. We had a solid team of medical providers, including a medical doctor, dentists and nurses who travelled there to provide medical care to a small community located in Okap. The mission would not have been a success without assistance of a local doctor who helped with logistics and coordinating the event. IHI is also very thankful to our donors who contributed, funds, medical supplies and medications.

The clinic served roughly 300 individuals from infants to elderly with a wide array of medical issues over a 4-day period. The clinic saw a number of children with both medical and dental issues. A few cases of Malaria and Scabies in children, several with allergies and common cold. There were also a number of women of child-bearing age presenting with STDs, UTIs, and unknown pregnancies. A significant number of adult patients needed dental work to include dental cleaning, extractions, and periodontal treatment. These were some of the top presenting medical complaints.

As it relates to mental health, there is no denying that this is an underserved area. However, due to limited time and translators, the clinic was not able to provide this service. A small and informal survey was conducted by myself with 4 of local medical doctors employed at one the local hospitals in Okap. Based on their responses, they do not often encounter many patients who have symptoms of PTSD (see A Close Look at Mental Health in Haiti). They do however, see many patients who suffer from depression and anxiety disorders. We hope, at the next clinic to provide workshops are seminars to address this mental health need.

It is easy to state the obvious that the infrastructure to provide medical and mental health is lacking in Haiti, that government is riddled with corruption, that access to food, electricity, education and other basic commodities are scare for many. But Oh! what I experienced was a group of people, smart, strong, industrious and will not take no for an answer---no wonder they were the first Black Republic!

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