lomaxanguilla
iwas
haitinoirthumb
fiusneakerproject
ayiko
savingtheelephant
waterforlife
grammy
tawakulk
mindseyethumb
womeninprod
citesoleilevent
drpaulfarmer

Shalala to Push For Haiti's Health

Miami Herald, The (FL)
2006-03-11
Section: Metro & State
Edition: Final
Page: 3B


JACQUELINE CHARLES, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

For years now, University of Miami doctors and medical students have been quietly working to promote better healthcare in poverty-stricken Haiti, treating HIV-infected individuals and training Haitian doctors.

That work will be the focus of a three-day visit set to begin on Sunday by University of Miami President Donna Shalala, and best-selling author and global health expert, Laurie Garrett. Garrett, who has made a name for herself focusing on infectious diseases and their impact on foreign policies, has focused much of her work on Africa and Asia. She has spent a limited time in the Caribbean, but Shalala and others are hoping the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist catches the Haiti bug.

``I am just going along for the ride,'' said Shalala, who has traveled to Haiti once before to see first-hand the work her university is doing in the Caribbean island. ``I am a minor player.''

Shalala's trip comes at a time when she faces mounting criticism about the private university's handling of a janitorial contract that has left janitors without healthcare insurance. Last week the university's janitors went on strike, demanding better pay and health insurance coverage.

Garrett said she has no expectations for the trip, other than to see first-hand the challenges UM doctors like Arthur Fournier face as they attempt to lower HIV infection rates in Haiti by addressing the psychological and social issues with families, and distribute antiretroviral drugs to help prolong lives.

``I don't think it's just an issue of poverty, it's in equality,'' Fournier said. ``You've got to start in rural Haiti, make the land productive again and create hope.''

Garrett, Fournier and Shalala are expected to arrive in Port-au-Prince on Sunday where they will meet with Haitian health officials, as well as HIV experts on the ground.

On Monday they will travel to Haiti's second largest city, Cap-Haitien where Garrett will meet with Dr. Andre Vulcain. Vulcain is the faculty liaison to UM's Family Medicine Residency Training Program, which is currently training five Haitian doctors, Fournier said. There also will be a visit to Thomonde, a rural town where the South Florida-based Green Family Foundation operates a mobile clinic.

``What we are doing right now is doomed to fail,'' said Garrett, a critic of the failure of foreign and national policies to reduce the spread of infectious diseases. ``We have no idea what we are doing.