Accelerating surgical training and reducing the burden of surgical disease in Haiti before and after the earthquake

J Craniofac Surg. 2012 Nov;23(7 Suppl 1):2028-32. doi: 10.1097/SCS.0b013e3182597e2d.


In general, university-based global health initiatives have tended to focus on expanding access to primary care. In the past, surgical programs may have been characterized by sporadic participation with little educational focus. However, there have been some notable exceptions with plastic surgery volunteer missions. We offer another model of regularly scheduled surgical trips to rural Haiti in plastic and general surgery. The goal of these trips is to reduce the burden of surgical disease and ultimately repair every cleft lip/palate in Haiti. Another principal objective is to accelerate the training of American residents through increased case load and personal interaction with attending surgeons in a concentrated period. Diversity of the case load and the overall number of surgeries performed by residents in a typical surgical trip outpaces the experiences available during a typical week in an American hospital setting. More importantly, we continue to provide ongoing training to Haitian nurses and surgeons in surgical techniques and postoperative care. Our postoperative complication rate has been relatively low. Our follow-up rates have been lower than 70% despite intensive attempts to maintain continued communication with our patients. Through our experiences in surgical care in rural Haiti, we were able to quickly ramp up our trauma and orthopedic surgical care immediately after the earthquake. Project Medishare and the University of Miami continue to operate a trauma and acute care hospital in Port au Prince. The hospital provides ongoing orthopedic, trauma, and neurosurgical expertise from the rotating teams of American surgeons and training of Haitian surgeons in modern surgical techniques. We believe that surgical residencies in the United States can improve their training programs and reduce global surgical burden of disease through consistent trips and working closely with country partners.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cleft Lip / surgery*
  • Cleft Palate / surgery*
  • Communication
  • Disasters*
  • Earthquakes*
  • Education, Nursing
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Haiti
  • Hospitals, Urban / organization & administration
  • Humans
  • Internship and Residency
  • Medical Missions
  • Mobile Health Units / organization & administration
  • Neurosurgical Procedures
  • Orthopedic Procedures
  • Physician-Patient Relations
  • Postoperative Care
  • Postoperative Complications / prevention & control
  • Relief Work
  • Rural Health
  • Surgery, Oral / education*
  • Surgery, Plastic / education*
  • Trauma Centers / organization & administration
  • Treatment Outcome
  • United States
  • Volunteers
  • Wounds and Injuries / surgery