Build Health International

Project Introduction

The magnitude 7.0 earthquake that hit Haiti in 2010 caused massive devastation to infrastructure and displaced thousands. Buildings can be rebuilt, but many of the people who survived have had to live with the mental and physical scars of that disaster. The Center for Excellence in Rehabilitation and Education at the Hôpital Universitaire Mirebalais (HUM), opened 18 months after the hospital, offers specialized care for patients with musculoskeletal and multi-trauma injuries including burns, stroke, spinal-cord injury, and traumatic brain injury. Like HUM, the rehab center serves as a teaching hospital, open to medical staff across the country. This center will provide assistance to the thousands of people currently living with disabilities in Haiti.

Build Health International

Project Information

  • Square Feet
  • Timeline
    January 2013 - September 2014
  • Operational Partners
    Partners in Health/Zanmi Lasante
& Design
& Equip
Build Health International

Project Description

The 2010 earthquake in Haiti was an event from which no one came out unscathed. Some made it through without physical injury, however thousands of people became disabled on that day or in the work following the natural disaster. According to estimates by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, natural disaster was the 61st cause of disability in Haiti in 2007. Today, it is the 1st cause of disability, having risen 4,082.2% since 2007. In the absence of affordable and accessible healthcare, those with disabilities following the earthquake were thought of as broken, their active lives over. Kekobe, they were called, meaning “broken body” or “broken mind” in Haitian Creole.

The institution of a rehabilitation program in Haiti, however, began to change that outlook. In the case of amputations and prosthetics, for example, people were no longer relinquished to a life of pain caused by mismanagement of amputation wounds. Before the institution of this program, people would wait for surgery, recover through bed rest, and be given a prosthetic without any preparation or strengthening of the limb. This often causes the tissue to break down and causes even more pain for the patient. The rehabilitation program instituted at HUM teaches medical staff that it is important to prepare the limb before use of a prosthetic. With amputation, what will actually make a patient heal quickly is strengthening and using the limb, such that when it is fitted into a prosthetic, the person is strong enough both in the limb and in the mind to be able to flourish with it. In fact, the Center features a walkway that winds around the exterior of the building and through a healing garden, allowing patients to see others and allowing the world to see the strength and progress these patients are making.