Does Haiti need therapists?
YES! Here is an excerpt from the Pan American Health Organization’s report on Health in Haiti as of 2016:
Health of the Disabled
The Haitian government estimated a total of 894,235 people living with disabilities before the earthquake of January 2010. This number increased by about 4,000 after the earthquake. Disabled people live without any special protections and have limited access to basic services. Physical infrastructure is rarely adapted for the disabled.
For decades, the people of Haiti have experienced trauma related to political violence, socioeconomic hardship, a series of catastrophic natural disasters, and finally, the cholera epidemic. The prevalence of mental health problems is not really known. There are only two public, specialized mental health institutions, providing 180 beds (a ratio of 1.7 beds per 100,000 inhabitants). The staff dedicated to the care of people with mental illness is very small, a ratio of 0.028 psychiatrists, 0.014 general practitioners, 0.038 nurses, and 0.086 social workers per 10,000 population (22). Very few psychologists are available.”
Human resources for health remains a major challenge for Haiti; the country has no policy for human resources in health.” (Italics added)
Please note that Occupational Therapists, who work with people affected by mental illness, do not yet appear in this list of mental health providers.
The main challenges are: vulnerability of the physical and human environment, dependence on international assistance, poor access to quality health services, weak health information and monitoring systems, prevention and control of NCDs, development of activities to strengthen maternal and child health care, and the limited resilience of the health sector to respond to health emergencies and natural disasters.
Why the Episcopal University, and why now?
The Episcopal Church, Diocese of Haiti, Province 2, has had a strong presence in Haiti since 1861. The Bishops and clergy of the Diocese are Haitian. Health care and literacy are hallmarks of the Episcopal Church in Haiti, with 254 schools, 2 hospitals, and 13 clinics - serving numbers of people well beyond members of the denomination. The Episcopal University of Haiti (called UNEPH, using the first letters of the French title) offers eight programs, on three campuses.
The success of UNEPH’s new academic nursing programs at the Léogâne campus (called FSIL, using the first letters of the French title) has been the inspiration for beginning these new degree programs. In 2005, UNEPH admitted students to the first four-year bachelor’s degree program in nursing in Haiti. The first nurses graduated in 2009. There are now over 100 FSIL graduates with BSN degrees, and 95% of them are working in Haiti. The success of these programs at the nursing school shows the way for the new programs in OT and PT. Students will do their fieldwork in rural areas as well as in Port-au-Prince, with the intention of growing along with the public health service, which is now expanding in the countryside. NGOs in Haiti have already hired many of the nurses who graduated from FSIL. The newly graduated OTs and PTs will also be valuable to NGOs offering rehabilitation services in Haiti.
How much money is needed?
Expenses for the first year, which consisted of general health studies and basic sciences, with volunteer academic leadership, were $30,000 USD. That amount was for program expenses only. That amount increased in Year Two and Three of the programs due to the need for salaries for administrative staff, books, transportation, and dorms as our program outgrew the nursing school capacity. With three cohorts in process, our yearly expenses are over $100,000.
Where the funds go and where they come from:
In Haiti, the academic departments pay a fee to help support the main university. In Haiti, all Episcopal institutions also pay a fee to help support the Episcopal Diocese. This is the opposite of the situation in the U.S., where the direction of flow of funds is from the university or diocese to the academic program. All of our funds beyond those received from tuition are raised by our volunteer Board, the Haiti Rehabilitation Foundation. In addition, during the past year we were delighted to receive a grant from the US State Dept. to pay for housing for our volunteer faculty members from abroad.
How much it costs per student
Tuition, room and board, and supplies including technology for one student cost the FSRL program over $6000 per year. Students are asked to pay $3100 per year. About half of our students can pay those fees. As the numbers of students increase, the need for sponsorships to help the bright students who come from from impoverished backgrounds is also growing.
Additional Sources of Funding
We have long-term plans for collaboration with the UNEPH medical school and the Medical Benevolence Foundation to request funding from the US American Schools and Hospitals Abroad funds for classrooms and dorm space.
An additional source of income has become available. Two US universities have written research grants in collaboration with the OT and PT faculty and students in order to find and document appropriate practice for developing countries. The experience of providing rehabilitation in Haiti, especially in rural areas, is developing as a resource for other countries world-wide with similar health care provision challenges.
In the long run, FSRL expects the OT and PT graduates to continue their education to the master’s level for these professions. The goal is to have Haitian faculty, as quickly as possible, who can take their place as contributors in the international rehabilitation community.
How can I support these programs?
An individual donor can support these Rehabilitation programs at UNEPH
by check, or by credit or debit card through PayPal.
Checks should be written to "Haiti Rehabilitation Foundation". They can be mailed to:
Treasurer Janis Handte
Haiti Rehabilitation Foundation
P.O. box 183
Hamilton, NY 13346.
For general inquiries, email firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information, and for opportunities for a speaker to visit the parish or diocese, please contact President of the HRF Board, Dr David Morrisette, email@example.com,
or the Vice-Presidents of the Board, Dr Renee Brown and Mme Zara Harris.
For information about volunteering as a faculty member, you may contact Dr Rachel Woodson (firstname.lastname@example.org) and/or Dr Patty Coker-Bolt, OT faculty from Medical U. of South Carolina (email@example.com) who are coordinating that effort.
Parishes and schools may want to consider sponsoring individual students, or undertaking a fundraising project on behalf of the school. Singing Rooster Haitian coffee can be sold with profits designated to support the Rehab Dept.! Details at singingrooster.org.
For further questions you may contact Dr Janet O’Flynn, Acting Dean, firstname.lastname@example.org
Donate Now by Credit or Debit Card
- $100 — support a class for one student
- $250 — pay tuition for a student for one month
- $1000 — cover the costs of a visiting faculty member
- $4000 — pay all expenses (tuition, room and board, uniforms, books and fees) for one student for one year
Mail a Check
Donations can be made by check to "Haiti Rehabilitation Foundation" and mailed to:
Janis Handte, Treasurer
P.O. box 183
Hamilton, NY, 13346
Haiti Rehabilitation Foundation is a 501c3 nonprofit organization. Donations are tax-deductible.