A multi-disciplinary group from the University of Florida (UF) has partnered with the Haitian non-profit Caribbean Harvest Foundation and the University of Haiti (UEH) in efforts to improve health and access to medical care for impoverished villagers in the Lac Azuei region of Haiti.
About Our Trip
A multi-disciplinary group from the University of Florida (UF) has partnered with the Haitian non-profit Caribbean Harvest Foundation and the University of Haiti (UEH) in efforts to improve health and access to medical care for impoverished villagers in the Lac Azuei region of Haiti. Dr Valentin Abe and Caribbean Harvest Foundation have been working in Haiti for over 15 years to develop sustainable fish farming. In addition, Dr. Abe has coordinated housing, education, water and medical projects in many of the fish farming villages. As part of that effort, groups from UF with health care providers, faculty and students from the Colleges of Medicine, Pharmacy, and Nutrition Science have travelled to Haiti on a regular basis for the past 4 years to run medical clinics, perform health and nutrition assessments, and provide health education and follow up medical care. The goal is to establish a permanent health clinic in the newly constructed village of Bethel, staffed by a full time nurse with medical direction and consultation from UF and UEH physicians.
The University of Florida has collaborated with the University of Haiti to include UEH medical and pharmacy students on the UF team during annual Spring Break student trips. In 2016, representatives from the UF College of Medicine and the UEH Faculty of Medicine and Pharmacy signed a cooperative agreement to establish clinical externships in emergency medicine at UF for senior UEH medical students. The UF College of Medicine also established a Lac Azuei Haiti global health elective for senior UF medical students. The goal is to expand this opportunity to other medical specialty rotations, collaborate on clinical research and faculty development projects, and eventually develop emergency medicine training in Haiti for UEH medical students and residents.
Harvey G Rohlwing, MD, FACEP
Department of Emergency Medicine
University of Florida
LAC Azuei at a Glance
Lac Azuei, also called Etang Saumatre (Brackish Pond), is Haiti’s main natural lake. With an area of over 110 square kilometers [42.5 square miles], it is a lovely sight. This region, currently located below sea level, water was trapped in the lowest points of the depression giving rise to lakes of brackish. The Brackish pond is fed by several streams, including the white river. Its main outlet is the of canal that connects it to the lake of the cayman hole and then the gulf of the The Salty Lake is surrounded by meadows and cactus.
Flooding has been a problem in the Lake Azuei region for years. Canals supposed to stabilize the water level of the lake have been blocked for a long time by waste and sediments, a waterlogging which is at the origin of floods.
The slopes around Lake Azuei are deforested. Water and sediment can therefore fall into the waters of the lake.
Our trip is completely run by medical students and funded by their fundraising efforts. All donations are tax-deductible. Click here for an Online Giving link and other Fundraising Information.
The team, which included both practitioners and students, worked in partnership with the Caribbean Harvest Foundation, a nonprofit organization that promotes fish farming development and serves those living in the impoverished villages surrounding Haiti’s largest lake. Eight pharmacy students and one medical student made the trip.
“Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day, teach him to fish and he will eat for a lifetime! Caribbean Harvest is a Haitian Charitable Foundation whose exclusive mission is to serve the needy people living in the impoverished villages that surround Haiti’s largest lakes.
“Working side-by-side with the pharmacists helped me be even more aware of various medication issues, for example, how a medicine tastes to a child,” she said. “It’s not something I would have necessarily thought of before.”