Delivering Community-based Psychiatric Services in Rural Haiti After the 2010 Earthquake

David Grelotti (Co-Investigator)


After the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, the international health care organizations Partners in Health and Zanmi Lasante worked to expand local mental health services in rural Haiti. The aims of this study are to describe clinical characteristics of the patients served during a pilot project to deliver community-based psychiatric services in rural Haiti and to show how this experience complements the Mental Health Gap Action Programme (“mhGAP”), a tool developed by the World Health Organization to support mental health care delivery by nonspecialists in LMICs. The pilot was conducted in March 2011. A visiting psychiatrist traveled to rural Haiti and paired with local clinicians to evaluate patients and to support quality improvement practices in psychiatric care. Patients received a standard neuropsychiatric evaluation. mhGAP was an important clinical reference. To assess the experience, we conducted a retrospective chart review of outpatient encounters. Our clinical data reinforce the need for provision of standard psychiatric and neurologic services in LMICs. Such services ought to accompany interventions targeted specifically at disaster-related problems. Clinical situations falling outside existing mhGAP modules inspired the development of supplemental treatment protocols. These observations informed coordinated efforts at Zanmi Lasante to build a sustainable, integrated mental health system in Haiti that may be relevant to other resource-limited settings. 


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