|Pediatric Clinic in Cite Soleil, January 22, 2012|
(Photo by John Carroll)
Yesterday I spoke with a young Haitian doctor.
He is a tall handsome dark skinned guy who has a gentle smile. He just graduated from one of the medical schools here in Port-au-Prince and is doing his year of Social Service for the Haitian government.
He is from Port-au-Prince and had an expensive Littmann stethoscope wrapped around his neck. It was not the usual flimsy nursing stethoscope that is ubiquitous here. I would say he is from the "middle class" of Haitian society.
He is spending this year in an "under served" area here in Haiti, which could be almost anywhere in Haiti. There is no attending physician present and so he is unsupervised and has no formal hospital teaching. There are no resident physicians available either to answer his questions or help him out. He has very little equipment and very little support even triaging patients to the proper location.
However, he seemed very upbeat.
I asked the young doctor what he was planning for his residency next year. He smiled and said that he would try and get a residency in Europe. Their are very few residency spots here in Haiti due to a lack of quality hospitals with teaching programs.
When I asked him what kind of doctor he wanted to be his answer was interesting. He said that he would like to do echocardiograms, or put in pacemakers, or be an "invasive gastroenterologist".
Haiti of course should have doctors that are proficient in all of these areas. But what they need the most are young physicians who want to specialize in public health and really learn how to treat tuberculosis and AIDS and cholera and other infectious disease problems that plague this place. But in order for this to happen, there has to be a push by the State of Haiti.
And what do I mean by push?
Young Haitian doctors are not thrilled with the idea of having multitudes of sick, coughing, cachectic, dying, and thrown away people dressed in rags, showing up on their office doorstep with no money to pay for their services. Haitian doctors need to be paid fairly by the State of Haiti to care for people who have no funds. And Haitian residencies need to be created and expanded which would train many young doctors in public health and infectious disease.
The young physician above needs to stay in Haiti. And the State of Haiti should make it worth his time.
John A. Carroll, MD