Haiti has just one neurologist for 10 million citizens, but the burden of neurological disease there is enormous, say BWH’s Aaron Berkowitz, MD, PhD, and Louine Martineau, MD, of the University Hospital in Mirebalais in Haiti.
Since BWH helped the University Hospital open in 2013, Martineau has regularly consulted on his neurologic patients with Berkowitz, who leads BWH’s Global Neurology Program. “By opening an outpatient clinic in communication with Dr. Berkowitz, we have created a way to manage patients with neurologic problems,” said Martineau.
To address the larger problem, Berkowitz and colleagues are launching Haiti’s first neurology training program. Initial seed funding will allow them to train two neurologists over the next two years.
“With further investment in the fellowship, we hope to train a few neurologists every year,” said Berkowitz. “These neurologists will serve different regions of the country so patients can get the care they need from local providers.”
Along with colleagues at Partners In Health and Equal Health—nonprofits connected with the University Hospital and BWH—Berkowitz will train the first two neurology fellows, and mentor them to train the next class and become the program’s core faculty.
“Watching the first class of residents support and guide the next, evolve as phenomenal clinicians and begin to dream of the impact they can have on health in Haiti is fantastic,” said Michelle Morse, MD, MPH, assistant program director for BWH’s Internal Medicine Residency and an advisor to University Hospital’s medical director.
The team hopes the fellowship will become a self-sustaining neurology residency program so that patients can get the care they need closer to home.
“The neurology fellowship at University Hospital in Mirebalais will plant the seeds for neurology in Haiti going forward,” said Berkowitz.
Added Morse: “Mirebalais will give us incredible evidence to share with the world on how to go from one neurologist serving a large population to many neurologists. Then we can begin to address the global burden of neurologic disease in earnest.”