Medical work in Haiti

In April of 2011 I had the opportunity to travel to Haiti and work at a free medical clinic located in the outskirts of Mourne Rouge. The group I traveled with was Naturopaths without Borders (NWB) and recent graduates had set up a clinic that served the Mourne Rouge community. Residents would line up every morning way before the clinic would open in hopes of seeing a practitioner to help them with their health concerns. Many would bring the entire family. In addition to the basic medical help the clinic provided, there were some midwives who volunteered and were able to help expectant mothers not only with their health, but in addition, with the birth of their children. There wasn’t a day in which we did not hear the cries of a newborn.

I did not know what to expect in Haiti. What would we be helping them with? Would I be prepared both emotionally and mentally? The travel to the clinic was a roller-coaster. A number of connecting flights, cancelled flights, taxi running out of gas on the way to the hostel, losing our luggage, and finally the long bus ride into Haiti. While all of that took a toll on our energy and excitement, the week we spent helping all the local residents was worth it.

We taught them about basic hygiene, overall nutrition for them and their children, and how to take care of infections that they dealt with everyday. The majority of complaints included tummy aches for the children, skin issues and general health issues. Many parents  thought that coffee for a 2 month year old was not a problem. Children spent all day in the heat and barely drank enough water. Parents used detergents to bathe their children not once, but twice a day. Teens did not know about how to prevent pregnancy and STI’s and how it was okay to say no.

We were able to provide hygiene kits, daily multivitamins and other supplements because of the donations that were provided from back home. The local residents were excited to have us there.

I am very happy to know that such a place exists and can provide free medical care to those that need it the most. I am thankful for all that I learned in Haiti and could not replace that trip with any amount of in-class and in-clinic hours.

Dr. Effy Germanis

Dr. Effy Germanis is a Naturopathic Doctor and Registered Acupuncturist and is a lover of gut health. She is the owner of Hygeia Naturopathic Clinic in Toronto, Ontario and helps both men and women achieve optimal health by addressing the foundations – the gut. With over 8 years of clinical experience she has helped those with gut issues reclaim their health and their relationship with food.