Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Promoting Health Education in Haitian Classrooms

Hello friends,
I know that many of my friends wanted to hear all about my trip to Haiti. In this blog post, I will attempt to describe my very first trip to the World’s First Black Republic.

I had an amazing opportunity (with the Haitian American Caucus) to give a presentation on the importance of Health Education to Haitian teachers along with my amazing mentor. Health education is not a focus in the school system in Haiti. However, there is such a great need to increase health education especially among school age children. 

From what we were told, school-age children suffer from many illnesses/diseases, some more serious than others. However, there are few resources to deal with them and unfortunately a lack of knowledge of how to do so. Here the teachers are participating in an activity
We presented the information in a form of a ‘Developing a Culturally-Appropriate First Aid kit for Haitian teachers.’ 

Most first aid kits are standard: Medication; Bandages and tape; Tools.
Due to the difference in illnesses that school-age children live with in Haiti, as opposed to the U.S., we wanted to develop a first aid kit that was representative of this. In other words, the items that you can find in a standard first aid kit in the U.S. can be useful, but may not be sufficient in Haiti.

Now, it’s easy to do research and come up with what we think should be included in a first aid kit, but it was very important for us to go straight to the source. It would have been very inconsiderate and ill-conceived not to have included the teachers in the development of a first aid kit designed for their use.

We encouraged that they take into consideration traditional medication (sometimes referred to as bush medicine) that often used in Haitian culture to treat, heal, and cure illnesses. For example, there is a plethora of herbs and plants that is easily recognized and is known to work by Haitian to treat various illnesses. Most importantly, we encouraged them to include items that are easily available and used often by the Haitian people to care for those who have ill health.

The key to our presentation was to focus on prevention of those illnesses that school age children experience. We were mainly supported their health and wellness goals. 

We encouraged them to address any illnesses, pain or other basic needs of their students by getting to know their students and having the knowledge and skills to care for their students in times of ill health. Doing so will allow for better students and teachers. Inevitably, school teachers in Haiti often have to be school nurses as well; an added responsibility that requires them to be knowledgeable on the treatment and prevention of various illnesses and injuries frequently experience by their students.

For this reason, they were very appreciative and responsive to our presentation. The presentation was very interactive, despite the language barrier at times. This presentation was a huge learning experience for me. It was a mutual exchange of information that benefited both myself and my mentor, Dr. Howard, as well as the teachers. I loved every moment of this presentation and I couldn’t have asked for a better time in Haiti with my profession. 

** There’s so much more that I could say, but I do not want to make this post any longer**
If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask.