About the Emory Haiti Alliance: Our Story
As documented in the Lancet Commission on Global Surgery, the global burden of surgical disease is large and continues to expand, but there is a huge disparity in access to safe surgical services around the globe. While study after study demonstrates that effective surgical care is sustainable and indeed an essential component of healthcare in resource-poor settings, it also has been shown to have huge financial benefits for patients. For example, the heralded measles vaccine costs only $30 per quality-adjusted life year (QALY) saved. Surgery, by comparison, costs a very similar $32 per QALY saved. And yet, Paul Farmer and Jim Kim once described surgery as the “neglected stepchild of global health” because while global vaccination programs have received international support, surgical care still lags behind.
Since 2008, Emory Haiti Alliance has provided low-cost surgical services in one of Haiti’s poorest and most resource-deprived regions, the Central Plateau. Every year a multi-disciplinary team composed of surgeons, anesthesiologists, nurses, medical students, and other operating room support staff work together to provide full surgical clinical, operative, and post-operative care services for indigent populations. Our trip lasts for one month every summer and includes three full operative weeks. Starting as a trip that primarily focused on treating general surgical and urological diseases, the organization has been able to expand our services to provide treatment options for those suffering from oral and maxillofacial disorders as well as pediatric surgical disease. We consistently help hardworking patients overcome surgical disease that prevents them from supporting their families and communities. Our pediatric surgeries transform children’s lives.
In line with these efforts, with each successive trip we want to help improve the quality of care that the hospital delivers to all of its patients. Our team collaborates with local hospital house staff to host educational sessions, donates new medical supplies and equipment, and conducts research to constantly evaluate how well we are reaching our goals to better the hospital and community. Our education sessions focus on learning new surgical technical skills and proper post-surgical care. Our research interests include improving our patient surgical consent process as well as reducing surgical site infections.
As a completely student organized trip, much of our planning revolves around fundraising to support our staff and to purchase medical supplies and medications. Our team of students crosses multiple levels of training, and together we collaborate to organize the trip throughout the year.