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The Newsletter of Florida's Unique Development Partnership with
the Caribbean Vol. 20,No 1
Doctors Offer Breast Cancer Seminar in Haiti
Dr. Frederick Moffat, Doctor from the Centre Bernard Mevs, Dr. Scott McDonald, Marie-Louise Vorbe, Doctor from the Centre Bernard Mevs and Dr. Orlando Silva
In a project sponsored by FAVACA and USAID, volunteer-consultants Dr. Frederick Moffat, Assistant Professor of Clinical Surgery; Dr. Scott McDonald, Associate Professor of Surgery; and Dr. Orlando Silva, Assistant Professor of Clinical Medicine at the University of Miami, traveled to Haiti on January 26 to 28 to conduct a seminar on breast cancer. These surgeons were joined by Dr. Arthur Fournier, Associate Dean for Community Health Affairs of the University of Miami School of Medicine, and faculty member Dr. Michel Dodard.
Groupe de Support Contre le Cancer (GSCC) hosted the event, and fifty health professionals and grass roots support staff attended the lectures which were held at Villa Creole and the Centre Bernard Mevs. The purpose of the seminar was to educate Haitian surgeons, oncologists and pathologists on the latest chemotherapeutic treatments of breast cancer, the breast conserving techniques of cancer surgery, and techniques of breast reconstruction.
The participants actively engaged the speakers in debate on techniques and assessment of local practices and limitations. Dr. Moffat discussed oncologic surgery and breast conservation surgery; Dr. Silva lectured on "New Advances in Chemo Therapy of Breast Cancer," and Dr. McDonald delivered information about breast reconstructions.
"It was my impression that the physicians enjoyed the presentations and exchange of information. This was apparent by the number of questions and discussion in between the presentations. It also helped me put into perspective their dedication to their patients and the supreme effort that they put forth with, at times, limited resources," McDonald said.
During the second day of the seminar, Dr. Frederick Moffat joined the Haitian surgeons as a direct advisor in an intervention on a Haitian patient and performed a modified radical mastectomy.
"It was a learning experience for all of us as the surgeons there have been trained in the French/Belgian tradition, in which the surgical technique differs significantly from that practiced in the United States and Great Britain," Moffat said. "The visit was extremely interesting and enjoyable for me."
Marie-Louise Vorbe, head of GSCC requested FAVACA's assistance to train the Haitian surgeons, oncologists and primary care physicians in the latest skills in breast cancer management, adopted to the realities of Haiti.
The consultants recommended further visits by themselves or other speakers on other types of cancer treatment. They also suggested finding funding sources in the U.S. for much needed therapeutic agents and looking into establishing short-term training sessions at the University of Miami for interested Haitian surgeons.
"It was truly wonderful and awakening to share in the knowledge and experience as well as the interest, the concern, the love and the dream of 'one more day' that unites us to our patients and bonds us to one another in the great call to fight against this awful disease," Dr. Silva said. "It was an honor to participate!"
Weather Radio System designed in Dominica
Partner Cecil Shillingford assists in assembling weather radio antenna equipment.
The National Hurricane Center in Miami gathers data and makes predictions for a wide area of the Caribbean as well as for the United States. Because of Dominica's varied topography, the country has a number of "micro-climates." With more specific predictions for each area of the country, disaster officials can better plan and organize their mitigation efforts.
In order to gather better and more specific weather data, volunteer John McHugh, coordinator for Amateur Radio at the National Hurricane Center in Miami, traveled to Dominica from January 13 to 18 to assist in the setup, programming, and testing of weather equipment that Dominica had procured under a World Bank Agreement.
The nine weather stations, two digital repeaters and the gateway were setup as a system in the training room. Once this was done and tested, McHugh set up the gateway that will allow the weather data from Dominica to be "gated" to a high frequency that will allow the data to be seen at the National Hurricane Center in Miami, assisting forecasters there in the preparation of the storm advisories.
"The equipment was set up in a room to simulate and verify the final system design. Over the next several months, the stations will be installed in their actual locations," McHugh said.
In addition to his technical assistance, McHugh gave a presentation about the planned system to a group of amateur radio operators from the Dominica Amateur Radio Club. In all, he worked with about 20 Dominicans during his trip.
"My overall feeling is that the trip was very worthwhile. I was able to use my knowledge and make a significant contribution by designing a system for Dominica that will give them weather data from several parts of the island," McHugh concluded.
Long-time partner Cecil Shillingford of the Office of Disaster Management (ODM) in Dominica agreed that the project would benefit Dominica.
"This project was very successful," Shillingford said. "We are encouraging even ham radio operators to have these instruments. It will enable the Hurricane Center to make specific predictions for Dominica. I'm asking FAVACA to have him come down again so we can get the total network set up before hurricane season begins."
Student Researches Hazard Mitigation in Belize
Belize is located in the "hurricane belt," and much of the Belizean economy and more than ten coastal communities (with more than 45 percent of the population) are located in the threatened coastal zone of the country. Consequently, lives and property are often endangered by annual tropical storms and hurricanes.
In an effort funded by the Department of Education, Florida State University graduate student Stewart Cruz conducted the second phase of Hurricane Mitigation Research in Belize from December 16 to January 2. This component of the research was the Hazard Mitigation Strategy Development Phase.
The key activity in this phase of the research was a community mitigation development workshop held in Caye Caulker. The community at large participated in this exercise.
Some of the goals of the exercise included educating the Caye Caulker community about the importance of hurricane mitigation in Belize; presenting the Caye Caulker vulnerability findings (discovered in the first phase); and weighing the hurricane vulnerability evaluation criteria.
Encouraging public participation, Cruz also worked to have the community create a sustainable development vision in the context of hurricanes and to have them develop a set of prioritized mitigation initiatives for the island.
"Stewart's proposal promises to provide an important foundation for advancing mitigation planning and policy in Belize," said Robert Doyle, Associate Professor and Master's Program Director at Florida State University's Department of Urban and Regional Planning. "[The] project also holds the potential to be a valuable model for other Caribbean and Central American nations."
Infection Control and Bio-Medical Waste Addressed in Nicaragua
Left to Right Dr. Lopez Rivas, Karina Celaya, Dr. Francis Arab, Maria Malterer, Dr. Baltadano, Miram Balinda, Maritza Obando.
In neo-natal units, burn units and maternity wards, infection control and biomedical waste disposal are critical for the health and recovery of patients. For under-resourced hospitals, such as many of those in Nicaragua, these issues are especially challenging.
Under an agreement with the U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) Humanitarian Assistance Program, FAVACA executed a project on bio-medical waste in Nicaragua. Three volunteers-Miriam Balinda, Infection Control Coordinator at Kendall Memorial Hospital; Karina Celaya, MPH Centers for Disease Control; and Dr. Francis Arab, specialist in environmental health with the Miami-Dade County Department of Health-traveled to Nicaragua from January 12 to 18 to offer training and consultations.
Approximately 170 hospital professionals participated in the training that provided techniques for the proper classification and disposal of biomedical waste and basic infection control practices. Karina Celaya delivered training in "Most Frequent Nosocomial Infections, Antibiotic Resistance, and Preventive Measures"; Miriam Balinda trained participants in "Infection Control, Hand Hygiene, Precautions in the Transmission of Infections, and CDC Guidelines"; and Dr. Arab offered training in "Collection, Classification, and Proper Disposal of Biomedical Waste."
The consultants also visited hospitals to gain an understanding of the challenges facing doctors and staff. In one visit they toured a hospital which was under reconstruction. They found that there were no dividers between the construction area and the hospitalized patients, and doctors had to control infection as best they could. Other areas had no soap or towels for the sinks and lacked proper biomedical waste disposals.
The Ministry of Health was instrumental in coordinating a training schedule for the week. The team provided training at two hospitals in Managua and the hospital in Leon. Additionally, the team held a successful meeting with representatives from hospital infection control committees to facilitate inter-hospital collaboration.
"Infection Control is a topic of extreme importance as one of the Minister's priorities is to reduce infant mortality. This trip provided an initial assessment of the infection control situation, as well as an opportunity to provide basic training for hospital staff to begin to reduce the effects of nosocomial infections. Guidelines and regulations should be developed and implemented in order to foster improvements in hospital vigilance. From this, continued train-the-trainers will be needed to improve and maintain the system," the consultants reported.
This project was funded under the U.S. Southern Command Humanitarian Assistance Program which seeks to increase the capacity of partner nations and NGO´s to meet basic human needs so they can respond to humanitarian emergencies.
Wildland firefighter Training Enhanced in Guatemala
Participants obtain training for belt weather kit.
In the farmlands of Guatemala, fire is often used as a farming tool. However, lack of knowledge concerning fire control and weather conditions can sometimes lead to disastrous results especially when the farms are located on the perimeter of forests.
In May of 2002, FAVACA and the U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) initiated a training program in incident command systems and wildland firefighting in Guatemala. The first training phase of the project took place in September 2002. This past February the training program was continued when Florida Division of Forestry Ranger Roberto Trincado of Homestead traveled to Guatemala from February 6 to 16. Trincado assisted in the training of 23 regional directors of the Forest Protection Unit of the National Forest Institute (INAB in Spanish).
The training, conducted in Chiquimula, included fire behavior, tools, personal safety, fire control and rehabilitation among other topics. Trincado focused on fire strategy, utilization of resources and fire safety and, more importantly, worked along with the five local trainers to fine-tune and enhance the curriculum they were already using. The 23 participants will train front-line firefighters in their regions.
"All 23 participants passed the course and the five trainers' skills were enhanced. As a result of the technical assistance, the importance of safety and fire weather were strongly addressed. Operational organization will also be more detailed much like the Incident Command System," Trincado reported.
"They were very open and willing to learn. One of the biggest problems is a lack of resources, including equipment and tools, but some firefighters are starting to make their own tools and others are getting funding from various sources," he said.
Jorge Luis Girón Hernández, training coordinator of INAB, said the course was very well received by the participants and that it was the first of its kind aimed at managers of the governmental institutions which make up the national system for forest fire response.
Participants in fire control training.
"Mr. Trincado's contribution to the course was outstanding and was reflected in his firefighting experience and his great volunteer spirit that was very well received by the participants. His participation was relevant and raised the course level above our expectations," Hernandez said.
"The results of the training were seen immediately, and it awoke the interest of the participants. Now the government institutions have trained decision makers which greatly strengthens the combined efforts to fight forest fires in the country," he added.
This was Trincado's first mission for FAVACA. "It was a very good experience and well worth it, knowing I could help someone and possibly help save lives," Trincado said.
Honduran Food Regulators Sharpen Skills
Food inspectors in Honduras provide a critical service to their local citizens and to those who consume their products overseas. The mission of the Department of Food Control in the Honduran Ministry of Public Health is to regulate, supervise and verify hygiene of food products to protect public health. Training in food inspection is necessary so that Honduran products can meet international standards and for Honduras to keep up with other Central American countries.
Veteran volunteer Dr. Nohemy Reid, Havana, traveled January 4 to 12 to train five Honduran technicians in the use of the High Performance Liquid Chromotography (HPLC) instrument and in techniques to improve the quality of their work. Dr. Reid, a native of Honduras, is a chemist with the Bureau of Petroleum Inspection in the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services in Tallahassee.
"These techniques are important to test for additives that can be dangerous," said Dr. Lavinia Rebeca Silva, head of the Honduran chemistry lab where the training took place.
During the training Dr. Reid covered how to determine benzoic acid and aspartame levels, how to use the HPLC apparatus, preparation of samples, and calculation and interpretation of graphics.
"In the past they didn't have the same quality control as those for U.S. standards," Reid said. "Now they're trying to have more control in food production and to develop testing that will make their food safer for the consumer."
"The knowledge the technicians acquired will be very important in the control of additives like antioxidants, preservatives, colorings and others," Silva said. "Although we had to make some changes on the spur of the moment, I'm very content with the training. It gives us a very important starting point for future improvements."
Reid said the training was a good experience. "I think it will make a big difference," she said. "They have started with the new lab and changes have already begun."
New Director of Development Joins FAVACA
Rebecca Reichert of Dania Beach, Florida, brings a wealth of international experience to her new position as Director of Development for FAVACA. For the past seven years Reichert has served as the program officer for the International Foundation of Election Systems, designing and managing programs in Haiti and Guyana, spearheading the first global civil society disability program and organizing international conferences and professional development workshops in the Caribbean and Central and South America.
Her new responsibilities include designing and implementing a resource development strategy to support FAVACA's international program expansion in collaboration with the program staff and reporting to the President.
"Rebecca brings to FAVACA a deep understanding of international development and of the role that the U.S. government plays in foreign assistance. Her experience in designing and managing programs in the Caribbean and the Americas has turned her into a committed development advocate. She will greatly help FAVACA convey its message to our partners, sponsors, and future supporters," said Julieta N. Valls, President of FAVACA.
Reichert has a master's degree in international affairs from The George Washington University Elliott School of International Affairs. In addition to her work for the International Foundation of Election Systems, Reichert has worked with the World Cup Organizing Committee, the Barcelona Olympics Committee and NBC, and the Knox College Study Abroad Program in conjunction with the University of Barcelona. She also speaks several languages.
All Florida Media Works
Cade and Associates
Carroll & Company, CPAs
Florida Department of Education
Development Alternatives Inc. (Haiti - Hillside Agriculture Project)
The Embroidered Department
Florida Department of Community Affairs
Florida Department of State
Gabriel's Moving & Storage
Graphic Edge Inc.
Pan American Development Foundation
Pan American Health Organization
Ron Sachs Communications
Tallahassee Farmers Market
USAID - Haiti
U.S. Embassy -Barbados
U.S. Southern Command